How Verbal Commitments and Verbal Offers Work (2024)

How Verbal Commitments and Verbal Offers Work (1)

Receiving a verbal offer is an exciting milestone in the recruiting process, but it doesn’t mean your recruiting journey is over. A verbal offer means you are in the running for a roster spot, and getting closer to signing on the dotted line, but the recruiting process is not yet over. A coach may make the same verbal offer to other athletes, knowing that not all will accept or be eligible. So, while your hard work is paying off, it’s important to not let off the gas just yet.

This page provides more detail on verbal offers mean, how to respond and next steps to securing that roster spot.

What is a verbal offer?

A verbal scholarship offer is when a college coach offers a student-athlete an athletic scholarship verbally during a conversation with their family. Because a verbal scholarship offer is made by the coach and not the athletic department, it is not binding. Instead, a verbal offer is more of an agreement that the student-athlete will attend the coach’s school and sign a National Letter of Intent (NLI), which includes financial aid papers and a contract. At any time, a coach or the student-athlete can back out of a verbal agreement, if they so choose.

What is a verbal commitment?

A verbal commitment is when your student-athlete verbally agrees to attend a school before they sign (or are able to sign) a National Letter of Intent (NLI). Recruits can make a verbal commitment at any time. When a student-athletes makes a verbal commitment, it serves as a signal to other college coaches to stop recruiting them.

It’s important to keep in mind that, just like a verbal offer, NCAA verbal commitments are not a binding agreement.

How to respond to a verbal offer

These are some of the scenarios where you might receive a verbal offer:

  • During a campus visit: This is when some of the most productive conversations between coaches and 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.

How to tell a college coach you want to commit?

If you are ready to make a verbal commit right away, thank the coach for their offer and let them know you are excited to commit to the school. If you need some time to think about it, thank them for their offer and make sure you get back to them by an agreed upon deadline.

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.

Typically, college coaches will want an answer to their verbal offer within a week (7 days), but they also understand that this is a big decision. If an athlete feels that they need more time to make a decision or is waiting to hear from other schools, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for a deadline to accept college offers. That being said, if your student-athlete gets a verbal offer from the coach at a school high on their target college list, they will most likely want to respond with a verbal commitment.

If a student-athlete has been communicating with other college coaches, they should notify them about the verbal offer. In some cases, knowing another coach is interested may influence a coach to start giving an athlete more serious attention, especially if it is a school in the same conference.

If a coach allows you some time to think about it, thank them for their offer and make sure you get back to them by the agreed upon deadline.

What to do after making a verbal commitment

First, it’s always a good idea to back up a verbal commitment with a written letter or email to the coach, especially if the recruit commits during a phone or in-person conversation with a coach. Confirm the conversation by sending a short letter or email thanking the coach and telling them you are excited to have committed to their school. Remember, nothing is guaranteed at this point.

How Verbal Commitments and Verbal Offers Work (2)

If your student-athlete is active on social media, they should announce the verbal offer. This can stir interest from other teams and other coaches, which is especially important for athletes that are hoping to receive an offer from a program higher on their schools list.

In the weeks and months following the verbal commitment, student-athletes should follow up with the coach to let them know about any progress they are making academically and athletically. Keeping an open line of communication is crucial. And be sure to remain on good terms with other coaches (schools that you had prior contact with or had received an offer.) Your situation (or the coach’s) may change. If that is the case, this provides you a better opportunity to follow up with those schools if needed.

Does a verbal commitment guarantee a scholarship?

No, verbal commitments do not guarantee a scholarship. 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.

Does a college have to honor a verbal commitment?

While the answer is no, it is very uncommon for a school to walk back on 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 oversigning: While the NCAA is cracking down on the practice of oversigning, a school can sign more athletes than they need on their team. While this occurs in numerous sports, it’s particularly common with Division I FBS college football. To see if a school you are interested in has a history of oversigning, research the program’s signing history by doing a search online.
  • 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. If an athlete is every uncertain about whether or not they’ve received a verbal offer, it’s important that they ask the coach directly to avoid confusion.

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.

Signing a National Letter of Intent

The National Letter of Intent or NLI, is the document you’ve been waiting for. This is the official commitment by your athlete to a college or university.

What it really means: An NLI is a legal, binding contract. It is something you are going to want to fully understand before signing it. Your athlete’s new coach and representatives from the school can help answer your questions or concerns when it comes to signing the NLI. It goes without saying that this is a great life-changing moment that also means your athlete has reached the end of their recruiting journey.

What you can do next: No one makes it to an NLI signing without the help of others. Make sure your athlete thanks all of the coaches, teachers, counselors, teammates who helped them along the way. Then, get them ready to join a very select group of athletes competing at the college level.

How Verbal Commitments and Verbal Offers Work (2024)
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