A signing date is the date an athlete can sign a National Letter of Intent (NLI). An NLI binds an athlete to a college or university.
The signing date, or period, happens at different times, depending on which sport an athlete is offered a scholarship. They also change from year to year, so make sure you know what the date is for your high school graduating class as well. It is extremely important to be aware of the signing period for your particular sport. A verbal scholarship offer and verbal commitment only becomes official once an athlete has signed an NLI. NLIs can only be signed during the signing period of an athlete’s senior year. For more information on when you can sign a scholarship at the NCAA Division I or II level check your recruiting calendar here.
NCAA Division III schools do not have signing periods because they do not offer athletic scholarships. DIII schools only offer academic money or aid.
National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) schools do not use the NLI system for athletic scholarships; therefore there is no signing date for any NAIA sport. Instead, prospective NAIA students can sign a scholarship offer with an NAIA institution at any time during their high school career.