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The actual definition states that a verbal committment is, “Stating publicly one’s intentions to attend a certain institution, is a non-binding, oral agreement between you and the institution. The only binding nature of the commitment is your word and the institution’s promise.” After evaluating a player, coaches meet and rank recruits and then begin sending out offers. You can make a verbal committment at any time, any age. 

What Is A Verbal Commitment? 

This is not a binding committment, at best it is a "gentleman's agreement" or a promise. A verbal committment is basically promise from you to the coach that you intend to attend that college and a promise from the coach that they will give you a scholarship or a National Letter of Intent (NLI). Both parties are allowed to back out of the verbal committment. 

Is This A Binding Commitment?

After you verbally commit and up until you receive an NLI coaches are constantly evaluating you as a player and as a person to make sure you are who you say you are. Don't get too comfortable, plenty of coaches have revoked their offers to players due to grades dropping, poor social media behavior or unforseen injuries.  

What Happens After I Verbally Commit?

Yes, you are allowed to verbally commit to up to 10 different schools! While this is completely legal, be aware that college coaches do talk to one another and will most likely find out if you are committing to multiple colleges. This strategy could damage your chances of playing because if a coach finds out you are committing to multiple schools they may end up not trusing your commitment to their program and this could hurt your chances of playing. 

Can I Commit to More than One School?

Coaches can retract their offers, however, this is much less likely than an athlete doing so. Retracting an offer to an athlete could create a horrible PR problem for the school and the sports program involved. High schools will remember a coach going back on an offer and it may take many years for that wound to heal. What's more, college coaches all talk and they will use this against the coach who went back on their offer, saying that athletes interested in that school should not trust that coach. This type of negative reputation is very hard to overcome with the internet and social media circulating information.  

Can Coaches Retract Their Offers?

Yes, just like a coach you are allowed to de-commit from a school at any time. Do so courteously so that you still leave a good impression, you never want to burn any bridges in case later on you decide to transfer, you get injured or you must relocate. 

Can I Retract A Verbal Commitment? 

Yes, you can do this. Since a verbal committment is one stating their intention to attend a school but is not binding, you can do this without breaking the rules. The NLI program does not recognize verbal committments, and it is not uncommon for a student athlete to verbally commit to one institution and sign an NLI for another. If you do this alert the school you verbally committed to and inform them of your decision. Note that institutions have offered scholarships to one student athlete than later offered the NLI to a different student athlete. 

Can I Verbally Commit To One School and Sign An NLI With Another?


National Letters of Intent are administered by the NCAA for DI and DII athletes and establish an agreement between the student athlete and coach that the athlete will attend that institution for at least 1 academic year and that the coach or institution will provide athletic academic aid for that same year.

What Is a National Letter of Intent?

Yes, National Letters of Intent are binding. You cannot back out on these without enduring a rigorous process that could seriously damage your chances of playing at an institution or university. It's not uncommon for some athletes sign NLIs quickly to ensure they have a place to play.

Are NLIs Binding? 

No, it is not required of you to sign an NLI in order to play your sport in college. An NLI can be used to officially sign a student who has verbally committed and is often used by student athletes to ensure they have a spot on the roster. 

Do I Have To Sign An NLI To Play At College?

Once you sign an NLI with an institution this means you are officially no longer on the "market" for coaches to recruit you and you can no longer talk with other coaches about recuiting. Signing an NLI does not guarantee you will start or even that you will play, the only thing it guarantees is that you will get an athletic scholarship from that school.

Once I Sign An NLI What Does This Mean for Me?

After signing an NLI and you are admitted to the school that you signed the for and either choose to attend a different instituion or you fail to meet the NLI requirements, there will be consequences. Usually you will become ineligible for 1 year, and if you end up attending an instituiton that is an NLI member than you must attend that institution for a full year before you are eligible again to play sports there. 
You can ask for an NLI release form from the original institution and if you receive it your penalty may be reduced. Note, however, that an institution is not obligated to provide you an NLI release form. 

What Happens If I Go Back On An NLI?

Be aware that when signing an NLI you are signing to attend that institution, not to play for that particular coach. If a coach leaves an institution inbetween the time you sign and when you reach campus, you are still bound by the NLI to attend that campus.

Even if you sign an NLI or make a Verbal Commitment to a school, you are still not guaranteed admittance to that school or a place to play until the admissions department admits you to that school. 

Important Information To Know About NLIs