Thursday, April 23, 2015

Clarification: Update on UNH Recruits and National Letter of Intent


Two days ago, I sought clarification from the National Letter of Intent Program on the question of deferring an NLI. I just received a return call from Susan Peal, the Director of the National Letter of Intent. She explained that the prospective student-athlete who has signed an NLI either during the November, 2014 early signing period or the current signing period, has the option to delay enrollment until Fall 2016. This is up to the discretion of the prospective student-athlete and can not be imposed by the college/university. This clarification appears to contradict one aspect of the "NLI Primer" article from the College Hockey News described below. A delay, if initiated by the prospective student-athlete, is for one year.


To date, I have confirmed that four UNH recruits who were projected to enroll at UNH in either the Fall of 2015 or 2016 have signed a National Letter of Intent (NLI). They are:
Liam Blackburn
Jason Kalinowski
Ara Nazarian
Marcus Vela

Some of the key provisions of the NLI are:
"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.
At the time the prospective student-athlete signs the NLI, he must receive a written offer of athletics financial aid for the entire 2015-16 academic year from the institution named in the document. The offer must list the terms, conditions and amount of the athletics aid award."
The vast majority of ice hockey recruits who sign an NLI either during the early signing period (November 12-19, 2014) or the regular signing period (April 15-August 1, 2015) enroll at the college/university the following fall. For example, all 10 UNH recruits who signed an NLI in November, 2013 or April/May, 2014 enrolled at UNH in the Fall of 2014 and played for the Wildcats in the 2014-2015 season. However, if the recruit and the college/university agree, the enrollment date can be deferred for a year.

Last November, Mike McMahon clarified this point in the "NLI Primer" he wrote for the College Hockey News.
"How long is an NLI good for? Originally NLIs were meant to be signed the year before you begin competition for a college program. However, an NLI can be deferred for up to four years if agreed upon by the school and player. It's possible a player signs an NLI as a 17-year-old senior in high school but defers for three seasons to play junior or prep hockey and doesn't start with his NCAA program until he is 20 years old."
I have received the following confirmation from Michelle Bronner, Senior Associate Director for Compliance at UNH, that the agreement included in an National Letter of Intent can be deferred:
"The quick answer is yes an NLI can be deferred. There is a provision in the letter of intent #7c that states “This NLI shall be declared null and void if I have not attended any institution for at least one academic year, provided my request for athletics financial aid for a subsequent fall term is denied by the signing institution.” So as long as a school holds a scholarship for the individual and makes it available the NLI remains in effect.
One topic of conversation among college hockey fans which comes up this time of year is - Which recruits will be playing for the team next season? Knowing that a recruit has signed a National Letter of Intent does not necessarily mean that he will enroll next fall. Also, a recruit who does not receive an offer of athletics financial aid in an NLI from the college/university may still be informed that he can enroll next fall and have an opportunity to make the hockey team.

So far, I have received confirmation from Jason Kalinowski, Ara Nazarian, and Marcus Vela - three recruits who have signed an National Letter of Intent - that they will be enrolling at UNH next fall. As I pointed out last November when Liam Blackburn signed an NLI during the early signing period, he and the UNH coaches had not yet decided upon an enrollment date for him. Blackburn's player profile page on the West Kelowna Warriors' website says "Committed for: TBA" . When information regarding Blackburn's enrollment date becomes available, I will report it in a tweet and/or on the blog.

Finally, I have received confirmation from UNH recruit Frankie Cefalu that he will enroll at UNH in the Fall of 2015. He was not offered an NLI for next year.

To summarize, as of today, four forwards - Cefalu, Kalinowski, Nazarian, and Vela - plan to enroll next fall and join the UNH hockey team. Since Liam Blackburn has signed an NLI, he may very well be the fifth forward to enroll in the Fall of 2015 but that has not yet been confirmed. Other UNH recruits who verbally committed to UNH and may enroll next fall include Joseph Masonius, Nick Nonis, Christopher Miller, Patrick Grasso, and Brendan van Riemsdyk. Liam Darcy will not be coming to UNH next season. Stay tuned.


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