Recruiting 101: National Signing Day

Recruiting is a never-ending process and Inside Sparta will bring you the most accurate and up-to-date information available. Recruiting 101 will cover the basics for new fans, and refresh the process for vets. We'll start with the most important day in recruiting - National Signing Day.

For those who have closely followed recruiting, Recruiting 101 could be a refresher. For those who are curious about about what it entails, there is an entire terminology that should be understood in order to fully appreciate the process.

Here are some of the terms with which you'll become familiar in Recruiting 101:

  • Evaluation Period
  • Quiet Period
  • Dead Period
  • Contact Period
  • Letter of Intent
  • National Signing Day
  • Official Visit
  • Unofficial Visit
  • Booster

First off, let's start with the most important day in recruiting - National Signing Day. It occurs every year on the first Wednesday of February. This is the end of the recruiting process for the players who are high school seniors, and who will be enrolling in the fall (we'll touch on early enrollments in a bit). It is when prospects can send in their Letter of Intent (LOI) to enroll, binding them to the institution to which they send their signed LOI. It is also the first time coaching staffs are allowed to publicly discuss their recruits. That can only happen after the institution has received the signed LOI.

While almost all prospects send or FAX their LOI on Signing Day, the day itself is really the beginning of the Signing Period. This period runs from the first Wednesday in February through April 1. For 2009 the signing period ran from February 4 through April 1. Junior College mid-year transfers can send in their LOI between the third Wednesday of Dec. and January 15.

Why is there a National Signing Day? There are several reasons.

  • It ends the recruiting of the student-athlete. No other schools may initiate contact
  • The student-athlete is assured of a scholarship for one year, provided he meets the academic requirements of the school and the NCAA
  • It binds the student athlete to the institution to which he signed for one year

Also, if a student-athlete later decides to change his choice of schools, even before enrolling or participating in fall camp, the NCAA transfer rules become active, and the student-athlete must sit out a year before he can play.

If a prospect enrolls early — most of the time that means sometime in January — there is no longer a need to sign an LOI, since he is already enrolled. More and more high school players are graduating in December in order to enroll in the college of their choice in January. This allows them to participate in spring drills.

Unless a Junior College player is a mid-year transfer they are not required to sign an LOI. They simply enroll in the fall as a regular student.

If a player doesn't sign an LOI by the end of the signing period he is no longer eligible to do so. He may enroll in the fall as a regular student and receive a scholarship, but until that time the institution is not bound to provide him with aid. Also, he is still open to being recruited by other institutions.

Lastly, a parent or legal guardian must sign the LOI for any student-athlete under the age of 21. If not signed by either after 14 days, the LOI is void. The institution may reissue a new LOI, which is covered by the same rules.

In our next segment we'll dive into the myriad litany of rules and timelines. We won't cover all of them — that could take years — but we'll hit the ones that are most pertinent to the recruiting fan.

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Don Hoekwater is the Publisher of Inside Sparta. You may contact Don with any questions, comments, or tips at

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