Kill the Fax. College football Programs Went Digital on National Signing Day

Feb 13, 2017 8:02:00 AM

If you're anything of a college sports fan, you've seen the process tens of hundreds of times.

A prodigous high school football star, flanked by parents and coaches at a long table -- in front of flashing cameras & media members ready to cast a teen's decision to the world. The array of hats arranged in front of him, praise or hate set to follow from whichever he picks.

Then, it's time for the pen & paper.

This is National Signing Day in college football. 

National Signing Day
The Dallas Morning News

Last Wednesday, thousands of prospective college football stars inked National Letters of Intent with their future programs. You know the scene above, and you know the hyped-up announcements featuring Migos, Derek Jeter, and excessive Harbaughisms.  That's what you care about: how many 5-star studs are going to line up for your squad next fall. But here at PactSafe, we're a little different. There's a contract & a signature involved -- and a process that could go paperless, right? We wanted to know: what happens in between the time from when a high school star puts pen to paper & the school's official announcement of the player officially joining the recruiting class?

Here's what we found out.

1. Schools are ditching the fax.

In every other line of business, the fax is dead. College athletics might be just behind the trend, but athletic departments are catching up when it comes to National Signing Day. A number of schools are already using e-signature tools, even. Boston College and Oregon State have already gone digital, and Notre Dame retired their fax machine during last year's National Signing Day.

But plenty of high profile programs still aren't going paperless. Per a PactSafe survey of Big Ten programs, Michigan and Ohio State both still relied on sending paper contracts via mail and have no e-signature process during National Signing Day 2017. Of course, that's a nice personal touch for the recruit to have a hard copy, but there's no reason they can't just use that paper one to commemorate the occasion.

Before Tom Herman left Houston for Texas, he took the Coogs paperless and re-made this classic after National Signing Day 2016.


University of Houston Meets Office Space


Of course, there's more than just saving paper as a reason to go digital.

2. You actually can lose a recruit while waiting to get a signed letter back!

Hey, you know the Nick Sabans & Urban Meyers of the world don't give up on a kid easily -- and weird stuff can happen when you're trying to get signed letters back from the other side.

Consider former Arkansas Razorback runningback Alex Collins' story in 2013! Collins inked his letter to sign with Bret Bielema's Hogs, but Collins' mother wanted him to stay close and attend his hometown University of Miami. It turned out to be the dramatic story of the day a few years back, but Collins ended up signing with Arkansas the next day when Bielema's staff faxed a new Letter of Intent to Collins' father.

But, don't fret: the story ends happily. Collins went on to become Arkansas' second all-time leading rusher in Fayetteville, only behind longtime NFL back to Darren McFadden. He just finished up his rookie season with the Seattle Seahawks on the active roster, too. 

3. No, an electronic process doesn't have to end signing day ceremonies.

There's something special to inking your name to play college sports on National Signing Day, it doesn't matter if you're a five-star quarterback headed to Alabama or a former Division III golfer like the author of this post.

Signing Day is special, and here at PactSafe, we know that a click of a button might not feel quite as special. But there's no reason the processes can't work hand in hand! Tools like ours at PactSafe will allow you to download a paper copy to sign for the ceremony, all while simply clicking a button on your phone to accept rather than heading to the fax machine to submit!

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Kyle Robbins

Written by Kyle Robbins