Not sure how many times I have to repeat myself, Giggs, Williams is not playing by different rules, every NESCAC school operates this way, and no, nothing is formal until an athlete is formally accepted. I could post 100 articles form the past few months, across various different sports in every NESCAC school, where prospective athletes say (or news reports announce) they are "committed" to attend a school. All that means is (1) they agree to apply E.D., and if accepted, they will attend, and (2) in all likelihood, the coaches, who speak with admissions throughout the process, have been told that this particular athlete will almost surely be accepted, and then conveys that info informally to the athlete. Read the basketball board, for example, and there are already loads of stories about athletes "committed" to NESCAC schools. Reporters are not accustomed to covering D-3 athletics, so they don't really understand the nuances of reporting these type of decisions, which, no, are not formal, and not guarantees of anything until the athletes are accepted by admissions. But it is very, very, very rare for a TIPPED athlete / top recruiting priority of a coach to be rejected after applying ED, once the coach gets the off the record wink and a nod from admissions that this person will be accepted. All this does is basically level the playing field for NESCAC and other D-3 (not to mention D-1) schools, all of whom are able to either formally admit, or likewise let athletes know they will almost certainly be admitted, well in advance. It does not violate any formal policy, but it is a way of coaches figuring out who their top recruiting priorities will be, and who to use their very limited TIPS (in most sports, only 1-2 slots per year) to push for in admissions.