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Recruiting in Plain English – Signing Periods, Official Visits, and Commitments

The recruiting process can be quite confusing. From registering with the NCAA Eligibility Center to signing an NLI, there are so many steps in the process. Here is a breakdown of times/ dates to help you understand the “official visits” and “signing” parts of the recruiting process.

Fall signing period:

When: November 8-15, 2017

What: swimmers can sign a National Letter of Intent which is their binding agreement to attend a particular school. Coaches will provide scholarship papers for the swimmers and their parents to sign. A recruit cannot sign a National Letter of Intent unless there is some form of athletic scholarship. A book scholarship is the minimum.

A recruit must sign the NLI and scholarship papers between the November 8th and 15th and has 14 days to get the signed forms back to the coach.  However, we recommend getting the National Letter of Intent back to the school as soon as possible, within the time frame allowed.


Dead period:

Coaches are not allowed to meet recruits face to face from Monday, November 06, 2017 through Thursday, November 09, 2017 for the fall signing period. The dead period for the spring signing period is April 09, 2018 through April 12, 2018.


Official Visits:

When: September 1 of your senior year through August 1 except during a dead period.

What: A visit becomes official if the school pays for anything other than a ticket to an on-campus event. If they buy you a hot dog it becomes an official visit. Due to budgetary cutbacks, many schools don’t have the money to pay for the entire trip and will ask you to pay for your transportation to and from campus. The schools will usually pick up the tab for room and board while you are there.

Your parents may come with you on an official visit and schools are allowed to pay for their room and board while they are there. This depends on a school’s recruiting budget.

Limits: recruits are allowed to take official visits to 5 different Division I schools


Official visits to Division II schools are unlimited.

Official visits to Division III schools are unlimited.

Official visits to NAIA schools are unlimited.

Tip: don’t assume that a school will pay for everything on an official visit. You need to ask.


Unofficial Visits:

When: anytime except during a dead period.

What: unofficial visits are unlimited as long as you pay for everything on your trip. A school can provide tickets to an on-campus event while you are there. You are allowed to spend the night with the team, but you will have to pay the going rate for the dorm room or motel.

Tip: let the coach know well in advance that you are coming to campus


Regular Signing Period:

When: April 11 through August 1, 2018


Verbal Commitments:

When: anytime

What: you can give your verbal commitment to attend a school at any time and the coach can give you a verbal commitment for a scholarship offer or a spot on the team at any time.

Verbal commitments are not binding, but rarely do the coaches not honor their scholarship offers. Usually, it’s the recruit who backs out, if you give your word to a coach you should honor it.

Pay attention to admission deadlines, for merit aid, as they vary from school to school.  Lastly, a coach can’t put a scholarship offer in writing until August 1st of the student-athletes senior year in high school.