Some coaches have argued that the NCAA needs to install an early signing period in order to help prevent verbal commitments from being pursued by other colleges, as well as to allow them to focus on the season. At the same time, the opportunity to secure a spot in a program’s signing class is very appealing to some prospective student athletes.
Not much is likely to change for early enrollees like Cameron Robinson and the schools recruiting them.
On Friday came news that it appears the NCAA is going to allow recruits that are on course to enroll early to sign with the school of their choice Aug. 1. The NLI, a volunteer program that allows colleges the ability to lock prospective student athletes into binding agreements each beginning on the first Wednesday in February of each recruiting cycle, has long been considered unfavorable to the rights of the student athlete.
Yet without the ability to sign a letter of intent on the August date, colleges would now be the ones putting themselves out there, since a financial aid agreement does not bind a prospective student athlete. In essence, this means nothing at all will change in the world of recruiting, as schools already receive non-binding verbal commitments from prospects all the time.
Some programs might not be willing to take such a risk. While a few coaches were in favor of the change, citing the pains of putting countless hours into securing a verbal commitment only to see their coveted recruit switch before signing day, one prominent coordinator made a valid point in his concern for the rule.
“How do you know a guy can enroll early? They still have work to do on Aug, 1 and then you could have all your guys say ‘yeah I'm enrolling’ then not make it.”
Another coach had similar apprehensions, saying “players still are not bound to you but we are bound to them?”
One head coach thinks it would allow for unlimited communication, but was not sure on being able to publicly announce the prospect signing. That same head coach doesn't see much changing with the new interpretation.
"It is no different than what we have already been doing. They can sign an institution agreement but it is not binding until they go to class. At least that is what our compliance is telling us so it is nothing new"
For the high-profile prospects, the chance for schools to show their commitment, pun intended, to their top targets on Aug. 1 with federal grant-in-aid packages instead of the written scholarship offers they typically send out is a way to up the ante.
Perhaps the biggest question this interpretation creates is whether or not the colleges would be able to announce these “early signees” as part of their class after the financial aid packets are sent in. Not only that, but in theory schools could load up on early signees and then communicate with them without limitations, even if the prospect is not able to graduate early. This potential loophole, as well as the possibility of prospects trying to “sign” financial aid agreements with multiple schools, could result in more problems created than solved.