I have spent a good deal of time discussing the National Letter of Intent (NLI) on this blog. Generally, I have concluded that the most elite prospects should considering forgoing the NLI. On the other hand, less sought-after recruits should sign the NLI rather than risk that scholarship slots will fill up.
Recently, I have heard stories of athletes who were recruited and offered scholarships but not asked to sign the NLI. In one instance, the coach recruiting the athlete advised that the NLI was not necessary. The athlete made a non-binding verbal commitment to the school and informed the other interested schools that the athlete was off the market. Subsequently, the coach or school withdrew the scholarship offer and the athlete was left scrambling for a spot at another school.
What can athletes do to protect themselves when a coach or school doesn’t want to use the NLI?
- Call the school’s compliance officer and ask whether it is typical for the school and the particular coach to forgo the NLI.
- Request a financial aid agreement, and sign said agreement, before informing other schools that you have accepted an offer.
- Get the scholarship offer in writing (email or text is fine). Respond in writing that you accept and will be informing other schools of your decision. Save all communications.