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'Notional' Letter of Intent: College Football Offers More Than It Can Deliver, Part 2

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"Notional" Letter of Intent: College Football Offers More Than It Can Deliver, Part 2

By: Justin Fielkow

This is the second of a three-part series that will analyze the National Letter of Intent system and the concept of oversigning in major college football. In Part One, I provided a general introduction to the history and rules governing the National Letter of Intent and the doctrine of oversigning in college football. This post will further analyze the legal implications of and potential remedies for oversigning, including a promissory estoppel cause of action and breach of contract claim. Finally, Part Three will put the ethics and morality of the practice of oversigning, as it relates to the current world of big-money of college football, on figurative trial.

Enforcing Verbal Commitments Prior to Signing an NLI

As discussed in Part One, oversigning is defined as "the act of accepting more letters of intent on National Signing Day than you [an institution] have room for under the 85 scholarship limit." As a result, the unlikely-to-contribute players at the bottom of an incoming class are asked to "grayshirt," dutifully delaying their enrollment (or paying their way for a semester), until there is room for them in the next class, regardless of what a coach promised them during recruitment, or the fact that they signed an NLI. Additionally, every year thousands of high school seniors find themselves scrambling for scholarships after coaches rescind non-binding scholarship offers because they found more talented players and are forced to comply with the NCAA's signing limits.

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