Verbal Commitment? Letter of Intent? Dead Period? What Does It All Mean?

by SwimSwam 18

October 13th, 2014 College, College Recruiting, News

Contributor, Rick Paine, is an expert on college swimming and the college recruiting process. He is also the Director of Swimming at American College Connection (ACC). ACC is a SwimSwam Partner.

Early signing period:

When: November 12-19

What: swimmers can sign a National Letter of Intent which is their binding agreement to attend a particular school. Coaches will provide scholarship papers for the swimmers and their parents to sign. A recruit cannot sign a National Letter of Intent unless there is some form of athletic scholarship. A book scholarship is the minimum.

A recruit must sign the NLI and scholarship papers between the 12th and 19th and has 14 days to get the signed forms back to the coach.

Dead period:

Coaches are not allowed to meet recruits face to face from 8am Monday November 10 through 8am Friday November 14. The dead period for the regular signing period is 8am April 13 through 8am April 17.

Official Visits:

When: September 1 of your senior year through August 1 except during a dead period.

What: A visit becomes official if the school pays for anything other than a ticket to an on campus event. If they buy you a hot dog it becomes an official visit. Due to budgetary cutbacks many school don’t have the money to pay for the entire trip and will ask you to pay for your transportation to and from campus. The schools will usually pick up the tab for room and board while you are there.

Your parents may come with you on an official visit and schools are allowed to pay for their room and board while they are there. This depends on a schools recruiting budget.

Limits: recruits are allowed to take official visits to 5 different Division I schools

New Rule: official visits to Division II schools are unlimited.

There are no official visits to Division III schools.

Official visits to NAIA schools are unlimited.

Tip: don’t assume that a school will pay for everything on an official visit. You need to ask.

Unofficial Visits:

When: anytime except during a dead period.

What: unofficial visits are unlimited as long as you pay for everything on your trip. A school can provide tickets to an on-campus event while you are there. You are allowed to spend the night with the team, but you will have to pay the going rate for the dorm room or motel.

Tip: let the coach know well in advance that you are coming to campus

Regular Signing Period:

When: April 15 through August 1

Verbal Commitments:

When: anytime

What: you can give your verbal commitment to attend a school at any time and the coach can give you a verbal commitment for a scholarship offer or a spot on the team at any time.

Verbals are not binding, but rarely do the coaches renege on their scholarship offers. Usually it’s the recruit who backs out. If you give your word to a coach you should honor it.

Pay attention to admission deadlines as they vary from school to school.

Finding out if you have what it takes to compete in swimming at the college level is easy, and many swimmers do have the potential considering all of the options. Go to www.ACCrecruits and submit a Free Profile.


College Swimming News is courtesy of ACC, a SwimSwam ad partner. Go here and learn more about ACC and their team of college swimming experts.

Courtesy of ACC, a SwimSwam partner.

Leave a Reply

10 Comment threads
8 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
13 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted

There is no Dead Period in Division III.

Marc thanks for pointing that out. Also, there is no signing period.

Joel Shinofield

DIII Does have official visits. Each school may only provide one paid visit, but no limit on the number of schools a recruit can visit. As Rick suggests the amount covered by each DIII school will vary based on their recruiting budget, so it is good to know ahead of time what the host school will cover during the visit. Information about what can be covered is found in the DIII Manual under Bylaw 13.6.

Hi Rick – How common are verbal commitments for swimmers before the end of their junior year? I don’t hear about it happening in swimming the way it does in lacrosse. At least not with the top tier schools or swimmers. It really isn’t in the swimmer’s, or any athlete’s, best interest to verbally commit too early because so many factors are involved with a college decision.


Very rare….only the very elite and they usually do it to clear the summer/fall to better prepare for international competition. Pelton and Ledecky are two that come to mind. Can’t recall anything similar for young men.
Lacrosse has different recruiting rules….coaches can contact swimmers July 1st of their sophomore year and its not unusual for top lacrosse recruits to take visits in the fall of their junior year.
College swim coaches opposed a similar rule for swimming on the grounds that they have less recruiting resources than some of the other big time sports and they would be overwhelmed

Hi Susan,

Sorry for the late reply. I just returned from Kauai. Junior year verbals are pretty rare. IN 14 years at American College Connection we have had one girl and one boy give a verbal commitment in their junior year. If the kids are mature enough to know what they want and if they find the right fit for academics, swimming and scholarship it if OK to commit as a junior, but I agree with you that most kids are not ready.

Oline Stehr

Just found this article, which was great info, and it’s amazing how things have changed in the last 3 years. Verbals have increased so much in swimming!

Don't want to miss anything?

Subscribe to our newsletter and receive our latest updates!