You may believe in the Loch Ness Monster or you may believe in UFOs or you may believe in ghosts. But, don’t believe that there is a National Letter of Intent for NCAA Division III schools, because they DO NOT exist!
This past week was a HUGE week for the big football programs across the country as it was National Signing Day. You may have seen the highlights on ESPN of Juju Smith committing to USC or Solomon Thomas committing to Stanford (nice touch with the tree, glasses and bowtie) as well as all of the other major commitments. But what does this have to do with soccer recruiting at the NCAA Division III level? In a word…. nothing.
The National Letter of Intent program is a program designed for NCAA Division I and NCAA Division II programs that offer athletic scholarships. Since NCCA Division III programs do not have athletic scholarships, they do not participate in this program and there are not National Letters of Intent for NCAA Division III programs. (As an aside, the signing date for NCAA Division I and II men’s and women’s soccer opened up on February 5th as well, but that did not get to much news coverage!)
Even at the NCAA Division I and II levels the program is voluntary, but it is in the schools best interest to “lock up” their student-athletes with letters of intent. From the website, the National Letter of Intent is “a binding agreement between a prospective student-athlete and an NLI member institution”. The agreement stipulates that the student-athlete will agree “to attend the institution full-time for one academic year (two semesters or three quarters)” and “the institution agrees to provide athletics financial aid for one academic year (two semesters or three quarters)”. Again, this is a binding agreement between the student-athlete and the institution.
From a NCAA Division III perspective, all of the National Letter of Intent and the hype surrounding it is fairly meaningless and plays no part in the recruiting process. However, we have received several questions here at the Hub about D3 college coaches offering some form of “letters of intent” to prospective student-athletes.
At best, these can be celebratory occasions, where student-athletes can participate in “signing ceremonies” (like they see on TV) and commit to their selected Division III school of choice. It gives the student-athlete a feeling of accomplishment, a sense of closure in the college selection process, and creates buzz for the college as well as the high school by getting some media coverage.
On the downside, some Division III college coaches can attempt to use a “commitment letter” in a negative way. The coaches demand that student-athletes commit to their schools or suffer consequences. These consequences could be losing their spot on the team or support of their application from the athletic department. In either case, one has to question the integrity of the coach in question to use tactics such as these.
The bottom line is this— The National Letter of Intent program has nothing to do with NCAA Division III programs. It does not exist at this level and only applies for programs that offer athletic scholarships and participate in the program. Be wary of NCAA Division III coaches that attempt to use this tool with prospective student-athletes as one has to question their rationale and motivation.
Questions? Comments? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading!