What is the difference between a athletic recruit who has verballed or signed with a college program?

What is the difference between a athletic recruit who has verballed or signed with a college program?As I was updating the athletic recruiting definitions page, two terms that I felt needed on that list were a verbal commitment and a player who is signed.  For those who have visited this site frequently, you may think this is an article that you know everything about but it really is something that is commonly wrong.  In fact, I have seen newspapers write the wrong term for athletes at different times.

Because being signed with a school in being contractually obligated to go to their program and play sports there, it is a huge difference.  When you give a school your verbal commitment, there is nothing binding.  They likely gave you a scholarship offer either verbally or in writing and you decided that you would take them up on their offer by telling them that you want to be a part of their program.  The problem with this is that is not binding on either side.

If you are an athlete with ten scholarship offers, you could conceivably make verbal commitments to ten different schools.  Why you would do that is beyond me but it is possible simply because a verbal commitment is worth nothing.  People back away from their word all of the time so it happens in the recruiting process.

Two years ago, I saw an athlete make a verbal commitment to a school as a sophomore.  The coaching staff got fired so he withdrew his commitment.  He committed to another school during the summer.  His dad was then hired late in the recruiting process at another school so he changed his commitment to them.  Over the course of two years, this athlete was committed to three different schools.

With so many coaching staffs throughout the country moving to a bigger job or being fired, athletes change their commitment status all the time.  If you look at the recent football firing at Clemson, the Tigers had a solid class before their coach was fired.  The majority of the big named commitments have now backed off from their verbal commitment and are looking at other schools.

If the coach was fired after Signing Day and the athletes had already signed, then they are going to have an even tougher battle getting out of their National Letter of Intent.  Some schools will let athletes out of this NLI when there is a coaching change.  There are other schools that make the athlete go to a prep school or sit out to be able to attend a Division I school afterwards.  It is up to the school if they are going to let the athlete out of this binding contract.

Let’s say that there is a freshman this year in basketball that has blown up and has scholarship offers from some of the top programs across the country.  He could make a verbal commitment to his favorite school but he wouldn’t be in fact signing his Letter of Intent until November of 2014.  He could be considered a commitment up until then.  After Signing Day 2014, this basketball recruit can now be considered a signed recruit.

So again, a verbal commitment is when you tell a coach that you will be going to their school.  It can be over the phone, in person, via email, or via text.  It really doesn’t matter how you do it but the fact is that you can change your mind and have no penalty.

Signing with a school is when you and your parent sign a National Letter of Intent during Signing Day.  This is a one year contract that you are expected to live up to after signing.  While there are some exceptions, most schools will try to keep you in the contract as long as they can, even if the coaching staff does change.

Also, those that want to play sports at the Ivy League, Air Force, Army, Navy, Division III and places like that, I do not believe there is a NLI to sign.  All of these schools rely on verbal commitments and believe that you are their recruit once you get on campus at the end of the summer.  It is much harder to recruit at these schools simply because a Division I school can swoop up an athlete with an offer because they are always bound by their word, not a contract.

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