With some recent questions surrounding the NLI signing period, I wanted to do a comparison of the difference between a verbal commitment and actually signing your NLI.
A verbal agreement is not legally binding, however, the NLI legally binds a student-athlete (SA) to attend that institution for one academic year in exchange for athletic aid.
While a verbal commitment can be made at any time after communication begins on June 15th prior to junior year, the SA can only sign the NLI during the designated signing period starting in November of the SA’s senior year.
A verbal commitment is an agreement between an SA and the current coach. The NLI is an agreement between the SA and the institution.
Once the NLI is signed all recruiting discussions with other coaches must end.
If an SA has made a verbal commitment and the coach leaves, the SA is not required to attend that institution and the institution is not required to uphold the verbal agreement. If an SA signs their NLI and the coaches leave, the SA is still legally obligated to attend that institution.
The scholarship terms of the verbal agreement can legally be adjusted before the SA signs their NLI, the terms of the scholarship amount can not be changed once the student has signed their NLI (assuming they remain eligible to play and are admitted to the school)
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