Wednesday Begins Spring Signing Period

Wednesday, April 15th always has a lot of significance. For today's Americans, it's the last day to get those tax filings in on time. It's also the anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's death 144 years ago in 1865. And, in 2009, it's "the start of something big" for college basketball.

April 15th is the first day of the spring, or regular, signing period for men's and women's college basketball teams that participate in the National Letter of Intent (NLI) program -- currently 610 Division I and II institutions.

There won't be a stampede of school announcements today as in basketball's early period on a Wednesday each November, nor will it be anything like the February signing day for football. The signing period runs from April 15, 2009, through May 20, 2009 -- about five weeks.

NLI signing periods are active for all college sports now, except football which ended on April 1st (no joke). Here's the schedule for Duquesne's other sports

  • Soccer, track and field, and cross country began with football on February 4, 2009. (Also applies to field hockey and men's water polo.)
  • The period for all other sports started 10 days ago, May 6, 2009.
  • Except for basketball and football, the periods end on August 1, 2009.

Basketball players are recruited after the NLI period ends. The main difference is the NLI can't be used. Instead what has become known as an institutional letter is signed which, at a minimum, contains the school's guarantee of an athletic scholarship for the player, who commits to enroll, etc., at the school.

Duquesne has one verbal commitment for the slot vacated by the Dukes' only scholarhsip upperclassman on this year's 21-win team: senior Aaron Jackson. He is Pittsburgh native Andre Marhold, a 6-foot-6 forward from North Mecklenberg (N.C.) High School.

As the world will hear from the Churchill Downs announcer in a couple weeks: and they're off...