10 things wrestlers, parents and coaches should know about NLI’s
Posted by theMatBoss on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 7:11 PM UTC


Wednesday marked the start of the signing period for high school senior wrestlers across the nation. Social media was littered with announcements about seniors signing National Letters of Intent. 

Below are 10 things wrestlers, parents and coaches should know about NLI’s.

NLI is a binding agreement

When a student-athlete signs an NLI, he/she is making a binding agreement to attend the signing institution for one academic year, provided the prospective student-athlete meets all applicable university, conference, and NCAA regulations for the receipt of aid. A coach leaving the school does not release a student-athlete from an NLI.

Wrestlers in the Class of 2019 can sign NLI’s anytime from Nov. 14, 2018, until Aug. 1, 2019

Previously there were two periods in which a wrestler could sign an NLI. The early signing period was a week-long and took place in November, while the late signing period took place in April. Now, starting with the Class of 2019, wrestlers can sign an NLI anytime between the signing day in November and Aug. 1. For wrestlers, there is no longer a “dead period” between mid-November and mid-April when NLI’s cannot be signed.

NLI’s are used only in NCAA Division I and NCAA Division II

NLI’s are only used for wrestlers competing at the NCAA Division I and NCAA Division II levels. Wrestlers competing at the NCAA Division III, NAIA, and junior college levels do not sign NLIs.

NLI’s are not required

NLI’s are not required. The letter states, “The National Letter of Intent (NLI) is a voluntary program with regard to both institutions and prospective student-athletes. No prospective student-athlete or parent is required to sign the NLI for a prospective student-athlete to receive athletics aid and participate in intercollegiate athletics.” However, many wrestlers sign NLI’s because they want certainty during the recruiting process. By signing an NLI, a wrestler agrees to attend the institution for one year in exchange for the institution’s promise to provide athletics financial aid for the entire academic year.

After an NLI is signed, coaches from other colleges are not permitted to recruit that wrestler

A recruiting ban is put in place after a wrestler signs his/her NLI. Other institutions must respect the prospective student-athlete’s NLI signing by ceasing all communication. This recruiting ban remains in effect until the student-athlete enrolls in the institution in which he/she signed. Once enrolled, the student-athlete is governed by NCAA regulations.

An NLI cannot be signed off campus in the presence of an institutional employee

When a student-athlete signs the NLI off campus, a coach — or any member of the institution — cannot be present.

There must be a written offer of athletics financial aid when an NLI is signed

In order for the NLI to be valid, there also must be a written offer of athletics financial aid.

If a wrestler signs an NLI and instead chooses to enroll at another NLI institution, he/she will lose a year of eligibility.

The penalty for signing an NLI and not attending that institution is the wrestler loses a year of competition. However, if a wrestler requests a release — and the release is granted by the school — he/she does not have to sit a year.

A parent or legal guardian must also sign the NLI if the student-athlete is under 21

If a student-athlete is under the age of 21, a parent or legal guardian must sign the NLI in
order for it to be considered valid. Student-athletes who are 21 or older do not need a parent or legal guardian to sign it.

Signing an NLI does not assure a wrestler a spot in the starting lineup

When an NLI is signed, the institution with which the wrestler signed agrees to provide athletics financial aid for the academic year. It does not assure a wrestler a starting spot or a certain amount of mat time.