Nov. 1, 2004

Overview: What is the NLI?

The Collegiate Commissioners Association (CCA) administers the National Letter of Intent program. Started in 1964 with seven conferences and eight independent institutions, the program now includes more than 50 leagues with over 500 participating institutions.

The National Letter of Intent program originally called for a prospective student-athlete to sign an “Inter-Conference Letter of Intent” on a specific date. The terms of this Letter of Intent required a parent or legal guardian and an institution’s athletics director to sign along with the prospective student-athlete. This Letter served as certification that the student intended to enroll at a specific institution during the coming fall academic term. At the time of the Letter’s signing, the athletics director would indicate the type and extent of financial aid the institution was willing to provide. Following the signing, other cooperating conferences and institutions would then respect his/her decision to attend a specific college or university, and would cease further recruitment of the prospective student. This agreement was subject to the prospective student qualifying for admission to the institution of his/her choice and meeting the NCAA requirements for receipt of financial aid.

Dr. J. William Davis (former Faculty Athletics Representative at Texas Tech University) was Chair of the National Letter of Intent Steering Committee from 1964-73. Fred Jacoby (former Commissioner of the Mid-American Conference and Southwest Conference) headed the group from 1973-95, and Roy Kramer (former Commissioner of the Southeastern Conference) did so from 1995-2002. Mike Slive, Commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, is the current Chairman of the National Letter of Intent Steering Committee.

Over the years, some of the terms of the National Letter of Intent agreement have changed, yet the program’s basic goals have remained the same:

  • To reduce and limit recruiting pressure on student-athletes; and
  • To promote and preserve the amateur nature of collegiate athletics. By signing a National Letter of Intent, a prospective student-athlete agrees to attend the designated college or university for one academic year. Pursuant to the terms of the National Letter of Intent program, participating institutions agree to provide athletics financial aid for one academic year to the student-athlete, provided he/she is admitted to the institution and is eligible for financial aid under NCAA rules. An important provision of the National Letter of Intent program is a recruiting prohibition applied after a prospective student-athlete signs a Letter of Intent. This prohibition requires participating institutions to cease recruitment of a prospective student-athlete once a National Letter of Intent is signed with another institution.

The National Letter of Intent has many advantages to both prospective student-athletes and participating educational institutions:

  • Once a National Letter of Intent is signed, prospective student-athletes are no longer subject to further recruiting contacts and calls.
  • Student-athletes are assured of an athletics scholarship for one full academic year. (If not for the National Letter of Intent program, a student could find his or her scholarship taken by a more highly recruited student only weeks or days before classes begin.)
  • Institutions can be certain that once the student-athlete has signed a Letter of Intent, there is no need to continue recruiting for that position. (Without the program, last-minute changes by student-athletes could open scholarships and positions on teams.)
  • By emphasizing student-athletes’ commitments to educational institutions, not particular coaches or teams, the program focuses university athletics on educational objectives. The program promotes student-athletes’ academic objectives and helps to sustain the amateur nature of college sports.

Signing Dates

Signing Dates for the 2005-2006 Academic Year

Do not sign prior to 7:00 a.m. (local time) on the following dates or after the final signing date listed for each sport.

Sport Initial Signing Date Final Signing Date
Basketball (Early Period) November 10, 2004 November 17, 2004
Basketball (Late Period) April 13, 2005 May 18, 2005
Football (Midyear JC Transfer) December 15, 2004 January 15, 2005
Football (Regular Period) February 2, 2005 April 1, 2005
Field Hockey, Soccer, Men’s Water Polo* February 2, 2005 August 1, 2005
All Other Sports(Early Period) November 10, 2004 November 17, 2004
All Other Sports(Late Period) April 13, 2005 August 1, 2005

* – These sports do not have an early signing period.