Editorial: DIII ‘signing days’: Are they really necessary?

by Hunter Hillygus, Sports Editor

We’ve all seen the posts on Twitter, the pinned tweet of a high school athlete announcing their commitment to play a sport collegiately that shows: a) the college’s logo, b) a picture of the campus, c) a picture of the team in action and finally d) a picture of the athlete signing their letter of intent.

But what in the world are they signing if they’re a Division III athlete? There’s no athletic scholarships or letter of intents at the Division III level. There’s nothing legally binding when athletes commit to Simpson, and there’s nothing legally binding on that sheet of paper during that commitment announcement. They’re not fooling anybody.

Nevertheless, the recruiting process is stressful no matter the level of athlete. Finding that perfect fit is exciting and prospective student-athletes have every right to share that with their friends and family.

That’s why in 2015, the NCAA adopted proposal 2015-8, aka the Division III Celebratory Signing Form, basically a “let the DIII kids have their moment, too” act. The proposal states, via NCAA.org:

“With the adoption of this proposal, Division III institutions are permitted to use a standard, NCAA provided, nonbinding celebratory signing form. A prospective student-athlete is permitted to sign the celebratory signing form at any point, including high school signing events, after the prospective student-athlete has been accepted to the institution. Institutions should keep in mind, however, that they are not permitted to publicize a prospective student-athlete’s commitment to the institution until the prospective student-athlete has submitted a financial deposit.”

The proposal was created and passed, at its core, so that Division III athletes don’t feel left out on their high school’s signing day.

That begs the question, are these signings to Division III schools necessary?

To be blunt, no, they are not necessary.

There is no real reason to sign an essentially fake document on some arbitrary day to affirm a commitment to a school and program that cannot offer any monetary compensation for playing for them.

But, sports are supposed to be fun. The goal is to win and work hard to make that happen, but at the center of sports is fun. And signing days are fun.

Signing day is a culmination of hard work, dedication and perseverance, no matter what level an athlete competes at in college.

So why not let DIII kids sign a piece of paper, too? They just want to get in on the fun.