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Pushing back against the NLI

varskavarska Registered User Posts: 1,430 Senior Member
The NLI sure seems like a one-sided agreement. The recruit is locked-in regardless of what happens with coaching staff or playing time. If he wants to transfer and play elsewhere he has to hope the AD will grant him a release. Last signing day there was 4 star recruit named Roquan Smith that accepted Athletic Grant-in-Aid (scholarship) at Georgia without having to sign the NLI. An unnamed GA coach supposedly said, ",,,if my son is good enough and is in the same position as Roquan, I’m not going to let him sign an NLI. I understand exactly why you’re doing this.’

I'm guessing not many athletes have that kind of leverage. But I think a smart coach could succeed by backing away from the NLI requirement. If one coach is offering a scholarship in exchange for signing the NLI, with all its limits and restrictions – and another is saying, ‘we want you to play here, we’re going to give you a scholarship and we’re going to treat you like a human being – if you don’t like it, you’re free to go”. Who would you rather have your kid play for?

Replies to: Pushing back against the NLI

  • nhparent9nhparent9 Registered User Posts: 191 Junior Member
    It is a terrible document for the student, but kids from everywhere and in most sports can't wait to sign them,. I think its sort of a validation for years and years of hard work in their minds. That said, like virtually all things related to the NCAA, the "student athlete" is on the short end of the stick.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 19,521 Senior Member
    It was hard to decide THIS was the number for a scholarship and THIS was the school, but in a lot of ways I was relieved to be locked in. I said to my daughter (who is always changing her mind and could never decided if she wanted the checked skirt or the striped one, the red cup or the blue cup) that if she wasn't sure, she should not sign, she should wait for spring, she should look at more schools. Nope, she was sure. And for the first time in her life, she was.

    What I think is very unfair is that the NLI is for one year, but there are restrictions on the athlete moving on the next year but not the schools. The schools can dump the athlete, but the student has to get permission to even look at another school. That's not fair. The student shouldn't be tied if the school isn't.
  • varskavarska Registered User Posts: 1,430 Senior Member
    @twoinanddone, when your daughter was weighing her options, if one coach had said, "I don't believe in the NLI, I think it's unfair to the athlete. We'll just do the grant-in-aid paperwork for your scholarship." All things being equal, wouldn't you be inclined to accept that offer?

    I'm just saying I think there's an opportunity for a smart coach to gain a recruiting edge by getting rid of the NLI component of the scholarship.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 19,521 Senior Member
    I guess it depends on what is required for the grant-in-aid. Does the student have to meet the need requirement? I know the amount would still count against the team scholarship total, but can the schools just award a 'grant' with no other requirements?

    In our case, we could have waited until spring signing (and I would have preferred to because we didn't have the merit aid offer in hand, and in fact she hadn't been accepted yet, but I wasn't worried about that, only the money to pay for it), and the coach said there would be the same offer in April as in Nov. My daughter also could have still gone to D3 even after signing. The NLI didn't bother me that much. I actually agree with binding them for the one year even if the coach leaves, even if the coach signs 5 more outstanding catchers or the best running back in all of Texas so the athlete gets bumped down the line. Professional athletes aren't always able to pick their coaches, they go where they are drafted. High school kids are rarely able to pick and most states have rules about a student following a club coach to another HS. I bet the kid who was supposed to go to Louisville wished he had the NLI to bind the school because he had nothing to bind the school, and the school, because I'm pretty sure that grant-in-aid could be withdrawn if the school decides it doesn't really need Mr. Four Star.

    My daughter's first visit was with a school and coach who saw her play in a showcase. We really liked the coach, it was a D1 school, but DD just didn't like the school so picked another school for academics. This fall we learned that this coach had had to leave the school with very little notice in late July. The asst coach moved up, but the she had to leave too, so a new coach came in in Sept. It happens, and I don't think all the kids who had scholarships and agreed to play should get to leave in late August to follow the coach or go to a different school and bump someone else. This school has a D1 football team, so needs the many women's teams to stay active and can't just not field a team.

    I think Mr. Four Star is an outlier, and I don't think he would have been able to not sign the NLI at every school, nor do I think all the recruits at Georgia would get the same deal. If this kid jumps to another program by summer, I don't think GA will offer it again either.

  • Ohiodad51Ohiodad51 Forum Champion Athletic Recruits Posts: 2,425 Forum Champion
    At least for equivalency sports, a recruit actually signs two documents on signing day (or during the signing period). The scholarship papers bind the school for one academic year in most cases, although that is slowly changing. The NLI binds the recruit to the school for at least four years under most circumstances. You can technically sign the scholarship papers and not the letter of intent, which is what Smith says he is going to do when he picks his school. While I agree that few recruits will have the juice to get away with that at most schools, I do think that this is one more push towards schools going to four year scholarships to make things more even.
  • momof2010momof2010 Registered User Posts: 407 Member
    In my daughters experience her NLI actually saved her for one year. She was playing basketball at an NAIA school and was receiving 18K a year for bb and a separate amount for academics. Signed a new letter prior to soph year but this year she tore her ACL and was out the whole season, signed again summer before junior year but this time the coaches that recruited her were fired and the new coaches cut her. (thats a whole story altogether).. regardless, she had signed and they still had to give her 18K her junior year even though she spent basically zero time with basketball. Sure it was not a happy ending but at least she got her money for 3 years when she only actually "played" two. This year she is an RA to pay room and board and graduating in May.
  • varskavarska Registered User Posts: 1,430 Senior Member
    @momof2010, usually you only sign 1 NLI and that takes place before enrolling. The other document, as Ohiodad mentioned, is the financial award document. Is it possible that is what your daughter signed before Soph and Jr years?

    In the case of the recruit I mentioned at the outset, GA is allowing him to sign the financial docs for his scholarship, without being bound by the NLI.

    @twoinanddone - the NCAA allows the athletic grant-in-aid to be withdrawn if the athlete voluntarily leaves the program, but they can't renege because they change their minds on a recruit. I do get your point that without the NLI, a coach that leaves a program that could result in a mass exodus of players who may in turn bump players at the new school. That could become a real mess. I think the best solution would be abandoning the NLI and signing 4 year scholarships.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 19,521 Senior Member
    I checked and DD and I only signed one 2-page NLI that had the award on the top of the first page, but no separate award or grant document.

    Another area the NLI would benefit the student is if the student decides not to play after admitted. I know several who have done that, and while they weren't full scholarship awards, being an athlete probably helped the student get accepted and there was at least some money included with the NLI. One coach told me she doesn't give money to freshmen because this happened to her one time too many. Of course, that meant we dropped this school, but I understood her reasoning.
  • momof2010momof2010 Registered User Posts: 407 Member
    Varska, that is probably what it was. Sounds like a sweet deal for that recruit and I would definitely think it is an advantage in recruiting to allow that.
  • Ohiodad51Ohiodad51 Forum Champion Athletic Recruits Posts: 2,425 Forum Champion
    Maybe there is a difference between men's and women's sports, NCAA or NAIA, or maybe it is D1 and D2. But the National Letter of Intent Is a unitary document prepared for all athletes who will receive athletic aid at an NCAA institution. It actually says that it will be null and void if the member school does not offer a grant in aid package. The grant in aid form is prepared by the institution.
  • DavidRFrankDavidRFrank Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    @varska Athletes signing scholarships and not signing NLI's has been happening in top tier college basketball for a while. One of the "savvy" coaches using it as an advantage is coach Calipari (he was pushing the envelop in 2007/08 http://www.aseaofblue.com/2009/10/27/1103834/the-calipari-rule). It's one of the reasons he is able to stack his recruiting classes, because his recruits know they can leave if they want to.

    I suspect it will become much more common.
  • varskavarska Registered User Posts: 1,430 Senior Member
    Thanks, @davidrfrank, I didn't realize that
This discussion has been closed.