October NCAA Newsletter
This time of year, there is a steady buzz in college placement offices around the country. I’m reminded of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, but instead of lions and tigers and bears, the conundrum is “Early Action and Early Decision and Regular Decision, oh my!” There is so much to consider when it comes to the college application process- being recruited can amplify the intensity.

This newsletter will address commitments (both verbal and contractual), the timing of commitments and some sound advice from a professional on the inside.
Verbal Commitment vs. Letter of Intent
A verbal commitment happens when a college-bound student-athlete verbally agrees to play sports for a college before he or she signs or is eligible to sign a National Letter of Intent. The commitment is not binding on the student-athlete or the school and can be made at any time.

When a student-athlete officially commits to attend a Division I or II college, he or she signs a National Letter of Intent , agreeing to attend that school for one academic year.

An NLI is signed when a student has accepted an athletic scholarship. Any Division III athlete or walk-on to DI and DII will not sign a Letter of Intent. 
What is the best timing to make the verbal commitment?
Some athletes are driven to make a commitment as early as freshman or sophomore year. In a previous newsletter, I included a chart that highlighted the typical time frame for a verbal commitment. It holds true, that the majority of athletes are committing during their senior year, in large part because official visits cannot occur until that point. 

There is no set time frame for a verbal commitment. As a family, you will have to decide, after all the factors have been considered, when an athlete should make a commitment. Some internal data from the NCAA may be helpful:
One of the considerations we will address in College Placement is signing the National Letter of Intent before being accepted to the institution. There have been circumstances where student-athletes have signed an NLI prior to being accepted to college and subsequently did not receive admittance. This situation may have catastrophic results; the athlete may lose a year of eligibility, which would have a tremendously negative impact on the terms of the scholarship. It is our goal to work with athletes to navigate an appropriate timeline and consider all aspects of the recruitment process so you make an informed decision! Signing an NLI prior to acceptance to the college of your choice is risky business!
From Samantha Ekstrand
Legal Counsel for NFCA (National Fastpitch Coaches Association):

For Parents , we had our turn choosing a school. That time is over. Do not be a snowplow, or a bulldozer, a helicopter or any other metaphor for interference. Exercise some self-restraint. We need to let our child lead this process : they should write the emails, make the phone calls, arrange the visits. We also need to be calm, patient, kind, and supportive during a likely stressful, selective process.

Please check our Ms. Ekstrand’s entire article:
Mrs. Strauss is a former NCAA Head Coach and Division I collegiate athlete.
At a recent presentation I gave, I reminded the parents and athletes in attendance, that every collegiate athlete will be a “former collegiate athlete” far longer than the four years he or she puts on a college uniform. It is so important to exercise prudence and patience with this process. If you have any questions about the process, college recruiting companies or eligibility, please feel free to reach out at any time. 
“If you laugh, if you think and if you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”

— Jim Valvano