National Letter of Intent

The National Letter of Intent and “National Signing Day” gets a lot of press and fanfare.  I bring this up because today, Wednesday, November 14th, is the initial signing date for prospective student-athletes signing during 2018-2019 and enrolling in college 2019-2020.  But if you pay attention to ESPN, sports networks and other channels, then you would know most of the fanfare surrounding National Signing Day and the initial signing period is mainly focused on football and basketball commitments.  What does it all mean though for wrestlers who intend to go on and compete in college?


You’re Making a Commitment

The basic gist of the NLI (National Letter of Intent) is that you are making a commitment to attend and compete for the institution of your choice for at least one year.  When you sign the NLI, its a binding agreement between you and the school.  And it comes with some stipulations to know:

  • A prospective student-athlete agrees to attend the institution full-time for one academic year (two semesters or three quarters).
  • The institution agrees to provide athletics financial aid for one academic year (two semesters or three quarters).

And one more thing, if you don’t comply with these provisions, then you will have to sit out for one year while you attend your next college or university as a full-time student for two semesters (or three quarters).  What about the other side of the commitment?  Your future college wrestling program can either renew or not renew your scholarship after one year, but whatever they choose, they must inform you of the decision.  Past the first year there are pretty much no guarantees.

What else do Wrestlers need to know?

For starters, the NLI only pertains to student-athletes who are attending NCAA Division I and II athletic institutions and programs.  You also can’t sign a National Letter of Intent if you are not being offered an athletic scholarship in any amount from the institution.  Another thing to know is that you will also need to sign your financial aid award package as well but they are not the same or tied together.  One is your need-based aid and the other is your athletic scholarship offer.

Some Tips for Wrestlers and Parents

  • Take your time when committing early!  There is no reason to commit without doing your due diligence; visits, coach communication, school research, pricing, etc…  You should take at least one official and unofficial visit before making a commitment anywhere.  
  • Take your visits!  Don’t turn down opportunities to visit somewhere because you can only see yourself at one place.  In the end, everyone lands at one place – take your visits because its worth it on so many levels; perspective, networking, something to compare to, maybe even a landing spot if you are in a transfer situation.  There is never enough perspective to be had and you never know what type of relationships you develop or knowledge you pick up from a visit.  There are plenty of stories around where someone took a last-second visit late and changed their decision.
  • Plan on taking college admissions tests (ACT/SAT) multiple times!  Make sure you go all in on doing your best.  Many people strategically like to go all in on one test but we recommend you practice both and take both.  If your scores are comparable, then they are comparable, and if you have to test a second time, then at that point it’s a choice or preference.  More often than not, we see wrestlers do better on one test over the other.    
  • Be Careful!  A lot has changed recently with rules and dates.  It’s in the coaches interest to offer early and use the rules to his advantage.  Getting a recruiting class done early and out of the way is the goal for many coaches.  Remember, most coaches are working with limited budgets and a small amount of scholarship money…don’t be afraid to ask questions or for clarification…know what you are signing up for.  Don’t waste your own time and money and don’t waste other people’s time and money.    
  • Think about working with one of our College Wrestling Recruit Coaches or a College Admissions Consultant.  The College Admissions process alone is a lot to handle.  Throw in looking at colleges that offer a varsity sponsored wrestling program and the limited amount of athletic scholarships available in wrestling and it’s even tougher.  Our recruit coaches understand the stress and angst you might be dealing with.  We work to help you and your family arrive at the best academic, athletic and financial fit possible.  For more info on how we can help you with your goals, email us at: info@wrestlingrecruiting.com 
By Shaun Lally

National Letter of Intent - FAQ's

Questions People Frequently Ask Us

If you know in advance that you will not be staying with your initial institution and will be looking to find a knew home, you will have to ask for a 4-4 transfer.  You should only really explore this option if you are breaking your commitment and have an offer from the school you intend to transfer to.

You will need to have the 16 core-courses fulfilled as required by the NCAA.  Want to learn more about which courses you need to take and for how many years?  Visit our resource vault!  

Yes, like the NCAA the NAIA requires that incoming student-athletes be eligible.  You can learn more by going to the NAIA Eligibility Center.

The NLI only pertains to NCAA DI and DII because of athletic scholarship offerings.   Because NCAA DIII does not offer money for athletics, there is no signing period.  However, if you would like to announce your commitment and have a ceremony at your High School you can do so with a document that is known as a “Celebratory Signing Form” and is to be signed after the prospect has been accepted to the institution.  You can obtain the form from your future coach.  

Twitter Tips form the National Letter of Intent Insider
Wrestling Eligibility Center
Are you NCAA or NAIA eligible?    If not, and you plan to wrestle NCAA DI or DII you will have to be registered and eligible to compete at the next level.  Want to learn more about wrestling recruiting and college admissions? 
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