As Ivy League recruited athletes narrow their choices in the summer and early fall, the question of the reliability of athletic likely letters naturally comes up. My son went the likely letter route last year and everything went exactly as advertised. He applied in September, had an official visit in mid-October, and had a LL in hand before the end of October. This college does not offer ED, so he had to wait until April 1 for the actual acceptance. He treated his LL as an early acceptance and made no other applications except to our state flagship as an ultra-safety (at my insistance).
From his experience as well as talking to other athletes and parents in his sport, and from what I've read on CC and from PMs from helpful CC members, I am convinced that likely letters are absolutely reliable so long as the applicant doesn't do anything that would cause a rescission of a regular acceptance (precipitous drop in grades, academic dishonesty, criminal activity, etc.)
For the benefit of the kids and their parents struggling with the process this year, can any of you confirm or counter my observations?