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Posted by: underpressure ( )
Date: October 30, 2019 03:23PM

Does anyone know what it means when you sign a letter of intent to play sports at a particular school? What exactly am I legally obligated to when I sign this document? Are there any exceptions to the legal obligations of signing if I change my mind or get an offer from a higher division school before I even set foot on campus of the original school with which the letter of intent was signed?

I'm under heavy pressure to sign one of these with a junior college, but don't feel like I've had enough time to make sure it's definitely the right choice for me. I also don't want them to move on and replace me, though, since I am very interested in their athletic program. I'm worried about being able to afford to live in the town where this school is and I'm worried that the academic offerings don't really fit in well with what I want to study. I'm afraid it might be a lot of repeating credits I already have at another college through concurrent enrollment earned during high school. The team is right for me; the academics and the cost of living there may not be.

What should I know about the consequences of signing a letter of intent?

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: October 30, 2019 03:38PM

Yes, I know about signing an athletic scholarship letter of intent... cuz I asked Google:

What is the Letter of Intent?

A Letter of Intent is a legally-binding contract which says that you will attend that college for a minimum of 1 academic year in exchange for an athletic scholarship. Once you sign a LOI, the recruiting process is over. No other college is allowed to recruit you. You can change your mind and go to a different college, but there are penalties for this.

Do NOT sign a Letter of Intent until you are certain that you want to go to that college and are satisfied with the scholarship offer.

What Does the Letter of Intent Promise?

The LOI says how much scholarship money you will receive in exchange for attending the college for 1 academic year (not one season). The Letter of Intent does NOT promise:

That you will get a spot on the team or compete
That your scholarship will be renewed the next year
Note that Letters of Intent are between the student and the college, not the coach. You could sign a LOI only to learn that the coach is going to a new college the next year. Even if the coach leaves, you are still bound to the college.

Do You Have to Sign a Letter of Intent?

Letters of Intent are voluntary and you don’t need to sign one to get a scholarship or play sports. However, some coaches can be very pushy about getting you to sign a LOI. They want to make sure that you will play for their team and not go to another college when you get a better offer.

Remember that the LOI is there to protect you too. Coaches use the Letter of Intent to ensure that they’ve got all of the scholarship spots on their team filled. If you are a mid-level player and don’t sign a LOI right away, then the coach might just give the scholarship to another player who is ready to sign. Only the very best players choose not to sign.

You do not need to sign a Letter of Intent if you are playing college sports but not on an athletic scholarship.
LOI are only signed the first year. You do not have to sign one each year.

Letters of Intent are for NCAA D1 and D2 only. You won’t sign a LOI with a NAIA or NJCAA college.

A Coach Promised Me a Scholarship. Do I Still Have to Sign the Letter of Intent?

Note that it is very common for student athletes to get scholarship promises from coaches, even in your sophomore or early in your junior year. A coach may also ask for a verbal commitment from you that you will attend the college. However, these promises don’t legally mean anything. A coach could change his or her mind. For example, if you were to become injured or your athletic performance declines for some other reason, the scholarship offer would go off the table. Likewise, you are also free to change your mind. You can promise to play for one college and then change your mind and go to another college. A scholarship offer only becomes a sure thing once you sign a Letter of Intent.

What Happens If I Change My Mind after Signing the Letter of Intent?

A LOI is a legal contract which says you will attend the college in question. If you change your mind and decide to go to a different college, you will lose your NCAA athletic eligibility to compete for 1 academic year.

If you break a LOI by going to another college, you can still play at that college. You can even still get scholarship money. However, you will not be allowed to compete for 1 year. Since most colleges won’t give you scholarship money if you aren’t playing, breaking a Letter of Intent usually means you won’t be getting a scholarship from any college. Only after 1 year is up will you be able to compete again.

Can I Get Out of the Letter of Intent?

If you sign a LOI and then change your mind, it is possible to appeal it and ask for a release. After all, colleges don’t want student athletes who don’t really want to be there. In most cases, the NCAA does grant the release. However, don’t count on this happening. Make sure you are satisfied with the scholarship offer and really want to go to the college before you sign!,is%20allowed%20to%20recruit%20you.

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Posted by: underpressure ( )
Date: October 30, 2019 03:56PM

Thanks for taking the time to find and post the info for me. I had actually found something very similar by asking Google before I posted, but I appreciate you taking the time! I'm still confused because Google is telling me junior colleges don't have letters of intent, but this is a junior college that is pushing hard for us to sign one, and sign one *right now*. We've also been told by the high school coaches that you can sign with a junior college and as long as you move up in division, like to a 4-year school, you can just walk away from the junior college commitment and maintain eligibility to play at the 4-year university with no requirement to sit out a year, but I can't find info on the internet confirming that.

My question should probably have been on if there are good, tactful ideas to get a college to maintain interest in you, to trust that you have very high interest in their athletic program, but to give you a little more time so you aren't pressured into a bad, legally binding decision that you regret later......

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Posted by: scmd1 ( )
Date: October 30, 2019 04:11PM

I understand your anxiety in regard to this, but I would be hesitant to sign anything until someone there can explain to you why it is that Google and others are telling you junior colleges do not operate with letters of intent, yet still they want you to sign one. It's difficult for you to know just what it is that you're getting into when you don't know just what it is that you are signing.

What are they offering you? An academic scholarship? Junior college tuition typically isn't a whole lot. Are they offering you room and board as well?

If they truly believed they could get someone better, it's unlikely that they would be so insistent upon you signing immediately. Don't sign away your options too hastily.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/30/2019 04:12PM by scmd1.

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Posted by: stillanon ( )
Date: October 30, 2019 04:21PM

"If they truly believed they could get someone better, it's unlikely that they would be so insistent upon you signing immediately."

Not exactly right. While this is a huge deal for the kid, it's just another business day for the AD's, coaches and recruiters. They need to fill their rosters, then they move the chess pieces. For every "A" list kid, they have at least 3 backups. If a kid is wishy washy and a mid tier recruit, they just move on down their list. They don't want a bunch of holes in their rosters and have to struggle or settle as time goes on. It's better to grasp that slot, while it's available, if it's a good fit.

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Posted by: stillanon ( )
Date: October 30, 2019 04:14PM

Google the bennies between D-1, DII and Juco's. Most, outside of D-1 are partial scholarships. But look at academic add-on's if you have good grades. We were very fortunate. My kid has a full ride which is tuition, books, room, meals (athletes get great meal plans) and incidentals (they give her an allowance for shampoo, razors, utensils, all kinds of strange things. It's not a dishonor to move schools if you have a better opportunity. Colleges move on athletes all the time if a better kid comes along. Try to get a multi-year deal vs. year to year. They can pull that anytime.

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Posted by: Roy G Biv ( )
Date: October 30, 2019 03:47PM

Just be sure to send the school a picture of you sitting on a rowing machine.

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: October 30, 2019 03:52PM

Soooooo bitter, aren't you?

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Posted by: Roy G Biv ( )
Date: October 30, 2019 04:17PM

Bitter? No. Sweet? maybe.

It's bittersweet, more sweet than bitter
Bitter than sweet
It's a bittersweet surrender

(bonus points if you know the song)

Maybe I'm just mad I didn't make the crew team at BYU? They do have one right?

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Posted by: stillanon ( )
Date: October 30, 2019 04:22PM

Yeah. J-Crew.

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Posted by: stillanon ( )
Date: October 30, 2019 03:54PM

Yes. My daughter signed one earlier this year and is attending college on a scholarship. A NLI is non- binding- unless someone decides to get really ugly. But beware, it also doesn't guarantee you a spot. The college can change its mind as well. Or have some "unforeseen circumstances" and pull your ride at the last minute. Interview and Negotiate with as many schools that appeal to you and make offers. Good luck.

Edited to add. Your high school counselor/adviser should be able to plug in your classes taken, with the college curriculum and see if it all fits. Be aware, you may be repeating some classes or lower classes that you already took. For example, my kid took (and passed) AP Calc I and Calc II. Her degree path requires her to take College Algebra, which she passed as a Sophomore. She's taking a class that she aced in the 10th grade and whining that she's not learning. She makes 100's on tests without studying. I tell her to be glad for the easy A. There are certain degree paths that are inflexible. So be prepared to not have credits applied. It happens all the time.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 10/30/2019 04:01PM by stillanon.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: October 30, 2019 06:28PM

It's only October. I wouldn't sign with anybody unless it's a school that you *really* want. Plus, as scmd points out, community college tuition is not that expensive should it come to that.

Schedule a private conversation with your high school coach, tell him what is going on, and ask him for his candid opinion about your prospects.

Please do not feel pressured to make a decision right now. I would tell the CC coach that you do not feel good about being pressured to make a decision in October/November, and you want to see if there are options from other schools.

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Posted by: stillanon ( )
Date: October 30, 2019 08:00PM

Bad advice. You don't know what sport it is, or when early training starts. He/she may need to make a decision and start attending training camp in March. If so, he does need to make a decision now. Athletes in some sports start training in the Spring and move into dorms in May.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/30/2019 08:02PM by stillanon.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: October 31, 2019 05:52PM

It's a community college. It's not a D1. D2. or even a D3 school. And the CC is a bad fit academically. What real harm is there in waiting? That you lose a few thousand in tuition? If the CC coach is interested in the student athlete for a scholarship, then he would definitely be interested in the SA for a walk-on.

What the kid needs is a realistic evaluation by someone who knows the sport, the kid's abilities, and possible colleges that would be good matches. That might be the high school or club coach, or it might be someone else.

My father was a D1 athlete. My nephew was D3.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/31/2019 06:08PM by summer.

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Posted by: underpressure ( )
Date: October 30, 2019 08:43PM

I believe my kid would not be needed until next September on campus for athletics.

And just for clarity's sake, he is definitely not interested in the community college for academics without the chance to play on the team. If he was not wanting to play college ball, he has already started and made a lot of headway in, via concurrent enrollment, our home town 4-year university which I believe is almost certainly the superior school of the two for academics but does not offer the sport he plays other than a "club team" which is not the level of competition he wants. So it's only losing the offer to go on athletic scholarship and play in a very competitive league that has us feeling like we risk losing anything if we don't commit to it before we feel ready to. I believe he is good enough to get another offer elsewhere if that happens, but it may not be to as prestigious/highly successful of a program (talking only with regard to his particular sport). He does, in fact, already have another specific offer and is in talks with a couple of other schools who have not officially offered a dollar amount yet.

I hate this.

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Posted by: stillanon ( )
Date: October 30, 2019 09:28PM

You should embrace this. Where do you live? Where ever it is, go to a major university and speak to an assistant AD. They are full of information and will have time to talk with you. They are really dedicated to see kids do well. They know, especially at schools that aren't Top D-1 schools, they aren't going to win a national championship. They can hook you up with people that have been through the process, and it is a process. If you sit back and just take things as they come, you'll never get a handle until it's too late. Go seek people that have been there, done that. They'll give you the best advice with no agenda. Be proactive. If not, you're just another cog in the machine. Really, if you don't know when your kid needs to report, you're not involved. Get moving. I'd be happy to help in any way. I just went through all the BS and my kid scored a smoking deal.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/30/2019 09:33PM by stillanon.

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Posted by: Lumberjack ( )
Date: October 30, 2019 09:39PM

I have not carefully read all of the answers above, so please excuse me if I am repeating an idea someone has already put forward.
Does the counseling department at your school (I assume you are in high school) have someone who specializes in college scholarships, and/or NCAA compliance? If so, please see what they have to say. Also, is there a coach that has had several of their athletes receive athletic scholarships? That person might have some good ideas to offer.
I say this because the high school I taught at did have a couple of counselors who specialized in this sort of thing. This was a medium-sized school that did produce a decent number of college athletes, particularly from the girl's teams. (I have no idea if you are male or female. It really doesn't matter in this case).

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Posted by: stillanon ( )
Date: October 30, 2019 10:23PM

This is hit or miss. Some have counselors with zero experience, some have some. My point is, don't rely on high school counselors, unless they have a proven track record. Go seek out a College AD. (I know a few and they all know each other) they are willing to help, even if it's for an athlete they're not interested in. But, you have to be proactive. Girl's scholarships are hot. Due to Title IX, they are hungry for players. But, if you sit back, waiting by the phone or the mailbox, you're already two steps behind of proactive parents and kids.

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