OXFORD, Ohio — Allie Cummins of Lakota West has learned the ins and outs of the National Letter of Intent the hard way after trying unsuccessfully to be released from her legal commitment to the University of Akron’s softball team.
However, without a release from Akron and her NLI, she’s ineligible for a year.
Akron recruited Cummins when she was 15. After signing her NLI with Akron this past November, she changed her mind during her senior season when Lakota West finished as Division I state runner-up. By July, she and Lakota West publicized her commitment to the Miami Redhawks.
She said a factor in her decision to exit Akron were videos and texts indicating smoking and drinking among players.
“I was friends with a girl on the team and she sent them to me personally,” Cummins said. “I don’t participate with drinking and smoking and stuff. I feel like I’m being punished for making the right decision. It’s going on four months of me trying to get out of it.”
Akron softball coach Julie Jones denied such behavior, according to Cummins. Upon requesting her release, Cummins said Jones ceased communicating to her and her family.
Akron released the following statement Aug. 27 from Jones:
“The University of Akron and Department of Athletics has followed all of the required protocols in place when dealing with a National Letter of Intent. After receiving a request to release the NLI, the department thoroughly reviewed the request and ultimately decided to uphold the requirements of the NLI program. The University released Allison from her obligation to attend the University of Akron and allowed her to speak freely with any schools or programs. After an appeal was filed to the NLI committee, the University followed all protocols required and the NLI committee upheld the requirements established by the NLI program.”
The NLI is a binding agreement between a prospective athlete and an NLI member school. Schools are not required to be a part of the program, but most are. Division III, NAIA, junior colleges, prep schools and two-year schools do not participate.
Signing means you agree to attend full-time for one academic year, in turn, the school provides athletic financial aid for the year. The penalty for not fulfilling a NLI is losing one season of competition in all sports for one year at the next NLI member institution, which in Allie’s case is Miami University.
“Signing Day is supposed to be a holiday for athletes,” Cummins said. “It can’t really be a holiday if stuff like this happens.”