We are into the NLI season. NLI is not a new kind of mosquito-borne virus, nor is it a new sport or a new athletic league. The National Letter of Intent (NLI) is a process that creates an official relationship between a prospective student-athlete and the college where he or she intends to enroll and participate in intercollegiate sports. The program now includes 650 Division I and Division II participating institutions. This is the first year for Fresno Pacific University to participate in this process as a full member of NCAA Division II. In high schools and living rooms and a few other more creative locations across America thousands of prospective student-athletes will sign a National Letter of Intent, including several dozen who are expected to commit to FPU and become one of our 300 student-athletes.
The NLI is a voluntary program for both institutions and student-athletes. No prospective student-athlete or parent is required to sign the NLI and no institution is required to join the program. For those who do choose to participate, the NLI is a binding agreement between a prospective student-athlete and an NLI-member institution such as FPU.
- A prospective student-athlete agrees to attend the institution full-time for one academic year.
- The institution agrees to provide athletic financial aid for one academic year.
- Once a student-athlete signs an NLI, all other schools must stop all efforts to recruit that student-athlete.
This is an important time to pray for student-athletes who are making a major decision that will affect the rest of their lives.
You can learn more about NLI at this website: nationalletter.org/aboutTheNli/index.html
America is crazy about sports. That’s no surprise. The whole world is crazy about sports. But that’s not the decisive reason that Fresno Pacific University invests so much in having a strong NCAA Division II athletics program with 14 teams from basketball to water polo. America is crazy about a lot of other things that we definitely do not offer.
Our new head coach in men’s basketball, C.J. Haydock, explained recently why he loves the game and why he loves coaching at a Christian university like FPU: The extreme challenges of high-level athletic competition are a powerful way that God uses to form great people. If you focus on building Christ-like people who are committed to working together physically, mentally and spiritually to reaching a demanding goal, that painful struggle brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint; because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
For high-level collegiate athletic competition to work its miracle in young lives, they must care about the outcome, they must really want to win, they must love the game and they must want the academic and spiritual growth that is part of the deal. But they also must have skillful, faithful and wise Godly coaches constantly present with them to teach, guide and support. When it is done right, the results are an amazing empowerment of leaders and beautifully transformed lives.
We do it because we love the students, each one made in God’s image. We do it because we love the game. We love the game because God loves the game. He knows and loves what the game does in the lives of the people he loves. And he sees all the other lives that these student-athletes will influence and lead in the future.