Verbal Commitment VS. NLI
Verbally committing and/or signing a National Letter of Intent (NLI) is a huge accomplishment for any junior golfer who gets the opportunity. While college coaches will remind you that committing/signing is not the finish line, it does mark an important milestone in your golfing career and the beginning of a new chapter.
The terms “committing” and “signing” are often used interchangeably to describe accepting an offer to play for a university, but they are not the same. Each comes with it’s own set of advantages and disadvantages that we think you should know about. This article will help you better understand the roadmap of making your college decision and what your options are at different points along the road.
Simply put, a verbal commitment is a non-binding agreement where a coach agrees to hold a roster spot for a player. This is usually the first step in the decision making process since a “verbal” can be made starting June 15th after your Sophomore year (this is the same day that recruiting conversations can begin).
Coaches will move at different speeds when it comes securing verbal commitments, but once they give you an offer, they usually want to move fast and may put deadline on their offer. While these deadlines may feel arbitrary and unnecessary, they should be taken seriously. This doesn’t mean you should rush to accept…just don’t assume it’s a bluff either. There are many great players on the market and coaches don’t want to spin their wheels with one player who is still on the fence and end up missing out on another player.
- Player can change their mind at any time
- Peace of mind that you have secured a spot on a team
- Coach can change their mind at any time
- No guaranteed financial aid
- Committing early may discourage other schools from showing interest
While it’s true that verbal commitments are based on the honor system and either party can “decommit” with no penalty, it’s a bad look to do this without a very good reason so it doesn’t happen very often (this goes for coaches too).
NATIONAL LETTER OF INTENT (NLI)
Signing an NLI is the final step in the decision making process. For players who have already made verbal commitments, Signing Day is the day to put pen to paper and make their decision official.
Signing Day is the 2nd Wednesday in November of your senior year. NLI’s can be signed anytime between Signing Day and August 1st before you start college.
NLI’s are administered by the NCAA for Division 1 and 2 programs and the main goal is to formalize an agreement on financial aid (Division 3 and Community Colleges issue their own letters of intent). The terms of an NLI are meant to protect both the player and coach from the other party leaving the agreement.
- Guarantees roster spot
- Guarantees financial aid
- Other coaches are barred from making recruiting contacts
- If you decide to transfer you may lose up to a year of eligibility
It should also be noted that NLI’s do not guarantee playing time. Players who sign an NLI do not have any inherent advantages over walk-ons once they’re all on the team. It’s not uncommon for walk-ons to work their way into scholarship positions with good performance so don’t be concerned or offended if a coach doesn’t ask you to sign an NLI…just use it as motivation!