Five most common questions about verbal commitments (2024)

Five most common questions about verbal commitments (1)

USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the college recruiting process. Here, you’ll find practical tips and real-world advice on becoming a better recruit to maximize your opportunities to play at the college level. Joe is a former college-athlete, coach, and NAIA National Champion. He is just one of many former college and professional players, college coaches, and parents who are part of the Next College Student Athlete. Their knowledge, experience, and dedication along with NCSA’s history of digital innovation, and long-standing relationship with the college coaching community have made NCSA the largest and most successful athletic recruiting network in the country.

Five most common questions about verbal commitments (2)

The recruiting process has sped up, with athletes committing to schools as early as the 8th grade. These commitments are unofficial verbal contracts entered into by the athlete and coach. Just like the commitments themselves, the rules around verbals are unofficial; nonetheless, there are understood norms coaches and athletes follow. Below, we breakdown the most commonly asked questions around verbal commitments.

Does a verbal commitment guarantee a scholarship?

Verbal commitments do not guarantee a scholarship, as they are unofficial verbal contracts between the athlete and coach. The NCAA does not recognize or even track verbal commitments between athletes and colleges. The only time an athlete can officially commit to a college is during the signing period, when they sign their national letter of intent. Any story you see of an athlete getting an offer or committing to a school before the signing period their senior year is unofficial.

Does a college have to honor a verbal commitment?

The short answer is no, but it is very uncommon for a school to just pull their offer. That said, there have been athletes who committed to a school, and when signing day came, they didn’t end up receiving an official offer. Here are a few of the common scenarios in which that might happen:

  • There is a coaching change – When there is a coaching change at a school, it is up to the incoming coach to decide whether they want to honor the verbal commitments of the previous coach or not.
  • The school has a history of oversigningWhile the NCAA is cracking down on the practice of over-signing, a school can sign more athletes than they need on their team.
  • There was never actually a verbal offer made – Occasionally, there are stories of athletes who were confused about the nature of their recruitment from a particular school, and they mistook general recruiting interest as a verbal commitment, without actually being extended an offer.

Why do athletes verbally commit to a college?

Athletes commit to colleges early because it can simplify their recruiting process. By making an early commitment, athletes signify to other coaches and their peers they are done looking at potential schools. For most sports, this means college coaches will stop recruiting them, and they can focus on finishing out their high school career without worrying about the recruiting process.

Another reason an athlete might commit to a school is because the coach has extended an offer and given them a limited amount of time to accept. For example, coaches might say, “I would like to offer you a scholarship, and I need to know if you will accept in the next two weeks.” Coaches do this because they are under pressure to lock down recruits ahead of other programs.

When can you verbally commit to a college?

Currently, there are no NCAA rules regulating when an athlete can commit to a college. An athlete can make a verbal commitment to a school whenever they want, assuming the coach at the school has made them an offer. If you receive an offer from one of your dream schools, your family is comfortable with the decision, and you think the coach is likely to stay in their job (admittedly, this is hard to know), you should feel comfortable committing to that school.

What do you say when you verbally commit?

There are no magic words, but these are some of the scenarios where you might make a commitment:

  • During a campus visit – This is when some of the most productive conversations between coaches and undergrad prospects happen. If you are further into the recruiting process with a program, don’t be surprised if they extend an offer during a visit.
  • During a phone call – There are several ways a coach and a recruit can talk on the phone before the “official recruiting period” begins. If you are having advanced discussions with the coach, don’t be surprised if they extend a verbal offer on the phone. If you like the offer, a simple “yes” can lock down your verbal commitment.
  • Following up with a coach after they extend an offer – It is likely you won’t have to make a verbal commitment on the spot. Most likely, you will get an offer and the coach will give you a few days or weeks to decide. Many verbal commitments happen when an athlete follows up with a coach via email or a phone call.

It is a good idea to back up the verbal commitment in some written form. For example, you might commit during a phone or in-person conversation with a coach and then confirm that conversation by sending a short letter or email thanking the coach and telling them you are excited to have committed to their school.

Five most common questions about verbal commitments (2024)


What are verbal commitments? ›

Instead, a verbal commitment is an unofficial contract between the athlete and coach. The NCAA does not recognize or even track verbal commitments between athletes and colleges. The only time an athlete can officially commit to a college is during the signing period, when they sign their national letter of intent.

What is a verbal commitment to the admissions process? ›

A verbal commitment is when a student-athlete verbally agrees to attend a school. The difference between a verbal commitment and a verbal offer is that with a verbal commitment, the student-athlete is saying to the coaching staff that they plan to attend their school.

Can you break a verbal commitment? ›

Since it is non-binding, a verbal commitment can be broken or taken back at any time by either the coach or the player. Read “What It Means to Commit to a School” to learn what student-athletes need to know before, during, and after signing their NLI.

What does a verbal commitment mean in college baseball? ›

However, according to the NCAA, “A verbal commitment happens when a college-bound student-athlete verbally agrees to play sports for a college before he or she signs or is eligible to sign a National Letter of Intent. The commitment is not binding on the student-athlete or the school and can be made at any time.”

What are the 5 points of commitment? ›

The 5 Levels of Commitment
  • Level 1: Self-Awareness. First, you become aware of a new idea or a new skill you want to develop. ...
  • Level 2: Willing To Change. This is where most people get stuck. ...
  • Level 3: Intense Focus. ...
  • Level 4: Commitment. ...
  • Level 5: Character.
Jan 7, 2016

What are two examples of commitment? ›

If you said you'd meet a friend at six, that's a commitment — show up or your friend will be mad. You also can speak of commitment as a quality. Staying after school for a study group shows your commitment to good grades.

Does verbal commitment guarantee admission? ›

While it may feel less than concrete to make a verbal commitment knowing that coaches at elite institutions cannot offer an absolute guarantee, the reality is that in the vast majority of cases these verbal commitments do lead to acceptances and roster spots.

Are verbal commitments legally binding? ›

An oral contract is a type of contract that is agreed to via spoken communication, but not written down and signed. Oral contracts are legally binding but can be difficult to prove in a court of law. The enforceability of oral contracts depends on the jurisdiction as well as the type of deal.

Do verbal commitments hold up in court? ›

Yes, verbal contracts can hold up in court, if a court determines there is sufficient evidence to prove the existence and terms of a binding agreement.

What is a soft verbal commitment? ›

A soft commit is a player who has verbally pledged to play for a school, but is open to being recruited by other schools and will actively visit other schools.

What happens after you verbally commit? ›

Immediately after verbally committing to a college, not much changes. Your commitment is not binding, so the school you committed to will continue developing a relationship with you to convince you to stay committed. Additionally, other schools will continue to recruit you until you sign your National Letter of Intent.

How do you prove a verbal promise? ›

Find a Witness

When legal cases involving verbal contracts occur, another method often used to prove that the contract existed is to provide a witness to the conversation. If more than one reliable person is willing to swear that a contract was agreed to, the case becomes more than a he-said, she-said situation.

What to say when a coach offers you? ›

When a coach gives an offer, make sure you thank them for the opportunity, and let them know you are interested in their program. It's perfectly acceptable to tell the coach that you need some time to think it over, and ask them when they need your response.

What does commitment look like in sports? ›

Commitment is shown three different ways: Body Language – being strong, confident, and getting back up when things go wrong. Effort – attempts are sustained and working hard all the time. On and off the field – commitment is being worked on by the decisions in both places.

How do you tell a coach you are not committing? ›

To politely decline a coach, you should send them an email or give them a call and be honest about why you are declining as well as show respect and gratitude for their offer.

What is an example of a message of commitment? ›

I will conduct myself in an inquiring manner that is conducive for learning. I will be a reflective, open-minded member of my learning community who will show empathy, tolerance and respect. I will maintain academic integrity insuring my work is my own.

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