Wednesday marked the beginning of the early period of National Signing Day for most high school athletes, including more than 100 who sent their photos to the Capital Gazette in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.
Athletes sign letters of commitment to enroll at a college, often in exchange for an offer of an athletic scholarship. The signing ceremonies during the pandemic are mostly family affairs, based on pictures submitted to the Gazette, but the selection of colleges and universities by Maryland student-athletes, along with those across the country, is no less official.
Technically, universities allow students to commit from this day forward, with the final signing day for most Division I and Division II sports coming next August, just before the 2021-22 academic year begins. The early signing window for football is much narrower, though, running from December 16 through December 18.
But across the country, especially in Division I, National Signing Day has become a celebrated event, according to the website of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Technically, student-athletes do not need to sign their National Letters of Intent on the first day of the Signing Period, but many do.
Likewise, colleges often celebrate National Signing Day when sought-after student-athletes end their recruiting journey.
“It’s Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, birthday, anniversary all wrapped into one,” The New York Times quoted Lou Somogyi of Notre Dame, as saying in 2015. The university’s Blue & Gold Magazine publishes 20 issues every year, and the post-national-signing-day issue is the longest and most popular.
“We joke that we can’t wait till the season starts so we can slow down a little bit,” he added.