The NCAA manages the daily operations of the NLI program while the Collegiate Commissioners Association (CCA) provides governance oversight of the program. Started in 1964 with seven conferences and eight independent institutions, the program now includes 635 Division I and Division II participating institutions.
The NLI is a voluntary program with regard to both institutions and student-athletes. No prospective student-athlete or parent is required to sign the National Letter of Intent, and no institution is required to join the program.
By signing a National Letter of Intent, a prospective student-athlete agrees to attend the designated college or university for one academic year. Pursuant to the terms of the National Letter of Intent program, participating institutions agree to provide athletics financial aid to the student-athlete, provided he/she is admitted to the institution and is eligible for financial aid under NCAA rules. An important provision of the National Letter of Intent program is a recruiting prohibition applied after a prospective student-athlete signs a Letter of Intent. This prohibition requires participating institutions to cease recruitment of a prospective student-athlete once a National Letter of Intent is signed with another institution.
The National Letter of Intent has many advantages to both prospective student-athletes and participating educational institutions:
Once a National Letter of Intent is signed, prospective student-athletes are no longer subject to further recruiting contacts and calls.
Student-athletes are assured of an athletics scholarship for a minimum of one full academic year.
By emphasizing a commitment to an educational institution, not particular coaches or teams, the program focuses on a prospective student-athlete's educational objectives.