An Advisers Life – The “Verbal Commitment” Or The National Letter Of Intent


As an Adviser, I am constantly asked by new clients, and younger clients; “When will I make my commitment?”.

That question is usually asked, or some version of it, within the first two interview calls or meetings.  Its an important question, but a complicated one to answer.  Getting the answer correct is more important than answering the question quickly.

There are two kinds of “commitments”.  The “verbal commitment” and the National Letter Of Intent or NLI.

A “verbal commitment” can be made at nearly any time in an athletes amateur career.  Sometimes as early as 15 years of age.  An NLI can only be signed before enrolling in the school the athlete has chosen.

The big difference between the two?  A “verbal commitment” is not binding, and an NLI is binding.

“Verbal commitments” really are just agreements made in that anticipation that all player development issues will go as everyone intends them to go.  There is no “guarantee” of “full ride”, and no “guarantee” of dollar amounts.  A “verbal commitment” only means that you have a roster spot if you enroll.  It doesn’t guarantee you a single minute of ice time or one dollar of scholarship money.

Don’t believe me?  Ask some players who over the course of a four year college career who have played less than a half dozen games.  Those same players not receiving one dollar of scholarship money.

Verbal commitments can be cancelled by the player or the school making them.  It happens all the time.

National Letters Of Intent are essentially contracts.  Letters received from the University state how much financial aid a student athlete will receive in his first season.  The important part of that statement is “in his first season”.

Every year, as an NCAA D-1 Athlete, your financial award can change.  You could go from “full ride” to zero.  You could go from zero to fifty percent.  It is all up to the coach.

Now, thanks to Mike McMahon at the College Hockey News, you can see just how valuable a “verbal commitment” is.

Through the year 2020, there are currently 1,032 players committed to the 60 Division I schools. That’s 17.2 players per school.  That number changes almost daily and may no longer be accurate at publication time.

Now, which is more important?  The “verbal commitment” that all of those players have, or the National Letter Of Intent that you sign before you enter school?

What I am hopping to convey to you is that it is more important to make the right commitment for you than to be in a hurry to make a commitment.  You could end up making a commitment early that is not there for you when you are ready to enroll.

Schools will not stop recruiting.  Once you make your “verbal commitment” though, you are no longer allowed to continue exploring school options.  Therefore is more important to make the right decision at the right time that is right for you.

Its not uncommon for 19 and 20 year olds to make their commitments.  Those commitments are almost always more solid than those made when a player is 15 or 16.

Be patient.  Do not rush the process.  When the time is right, the right choice will be there.

Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser