National Signing Day most commonly refers to a day in February, usually on the first Wednesday of that month, which is the first day that a high school senior can sign a binding National Letter of Intent for college football with a school that is a member of the NCAA, the main governing body for college sports in the United States. Although all NCAA sports have at least one National Signing Day, and most have two, college football's version is by far the most widely followed by fans and sports media.
National signing day is usually on the first Wednesday in February. Until 1981, several college football conferences, including the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), held conference signing days on the second Saturday in December to have recruits sign conference letters-of-intent. The College Football Association, led by several prominent college head football coaches, proposed a resolution to eliminate conference signing days during their 1980 convention, and have a singular signing day in their places, called a National Signing Day. In 1981, the last year for conference signing days, recruits had to sign both conference and national letters-of-intent if their school was in the Big Eight or Southwest Conferences. The conference letters-of-intent restricted a recruit to signing with only one school in a conference, but was unrestricted to signing with a school outside of the conference. The national letters-of-intent restricted a recruit to signing with only one school in the NCAA. The NCAA ruled in January 1981 to abolish early signing days and have a National Signing Day on the third Wednesday in February. National Signing Day has since typically been on the first Wednesday in February.
One such situation regarding players holding press conferences to announce their decisions involved offensive lineman Antonio Logan-El. Highly recruited out of high school, Logan-El initially verbally committed to the University of Maryland. On National Signing Day in 2006, he held a nationally-televised press conference at the ESPN Zone in Baltimore. Among the attendees of the press conference was the Maryland Terps' head coach Ralph Friedgen's wife. He took out a picture of himself with Penn State head coach Joe Paterno during the press conference and announced his decision to sign with Penn State.
- "NCAA Sacks Motion To Eliminate 'Full Rides'". Herald-Journal. January 14, 1981. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=DEosAAAAIBAJ&sjid=uc0EAAAAIBAJ&pg=6846,2525977. Retrieved 2012-02-23.
- "Gridders sign national letters-of-intent today". The Daily Reporter. February 13, 1981. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=7VsrAAAAIBAJ&sjid=jtkEAAAAIBAJ&pg=1316,2318646. Retrieved 2012-02-23.
- Mandel, Stewart (February 2, 2011). "Don't be fooled by Signing Day circus; 2011 recruiting awards". Sports Illustrated. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/stewart_mandel/02/02/signing-day-awards/. Retrieved 2012-02-23.
- "Lineman Logan-El chooses Penn State". USA Today. January 25, 2006. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/preps/football/2006-01-25-logan-el-penn-state_x.htm. Retrieved 2012-02-22.