Colorado athletic director defends Deion Sanders' roster-building tactics
Colorado head coach Deion Sanders has kept the Buffs squarely in the national spotlight throughout the winter and spring months for his unprecedented approach to roster building. The Buffaloes have had more than 50 scholarship players enter the transfer portal since Sanders took over the program.
And Coach Prime’s approach has come under significant scrutiny. He told CU players during their initial meeting that he was going to be aggressive in the portal. And that’s exactly what he has been — both in terms of looking to upgrade the roster and trimming the group of returning players.
While some of the outgoing Buffs have left on their own accord, others have said Sanders essentially cut them. In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger, CU athletic director Rick George defended Sanders’ approach to rebuilding the roster.
George told SI that Sanders is using an exemption made available under NCAA rules that gives first-year coaches the ability to cut scholarship players.
“We are not the first to do this,” George told Dellenger. “Eighteen months ago, there was a lot of criticism in our program because guys were leaving. Around 24 to 25 left in December  right after the season. Similar things have happened at other schools. We are not unique in this.
“We know that in a coach’s first year, you have a head coach exemption, which is part of NCAA rules. Having conversations with student-athletes after spring ball … ‘Hey, this may not work out. You may not get the playing time you want. We’ll help you go somewhere else.’ That’s what those discussions were about. After everybody’s season, coaches and student-athletes are having those conversations. Yeah, it’s a lot, but we are focused on getting better.”
Sanders went on The Pat McAfee Show recently and raised eyebrows with his comments, saying that he had to “clean out the old furniture” to make way for the players he wanted to add to the program.
“He’s more open and honest about it. I think that’s a good thing,” George told Dellenger. “I don’t have a problem with that. At the end of the day, he’s doing what he said he would do.”
George has no reason to doubt Sanders just yet. Season tickets are in major demand and Colorado just had its most-attended spring game in program history. That game was also the only spring game to be broadcast nationally on ESPN. For a team to go from 1-11 to one of the most talked about programs in the country in a manner of months is no small feat.
Of course, Sanders will have to win come September or the scrutiny will only grow.