Colorado AD backs Deion Sanders amid mass exodus: ‘I have confidence in him’

Deion Sanders has shaken up the culture at the University of Colorado just a few months into running the show in Boulder. 

Sanders was brought in to bring winning back to a program that has won double-digit games just once since 2002. 

Deion Sanders takes the field for the Spring Game

University of Colorado Buffaloes head coach Deion Sanders takes the field for warmups before the Black and Gold game at Folsom Field April 22, 2023.  (Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

But he’s done so by completely rebuilding the roster, with 57 players entering the transfer portal since Sanders became the head coach, according to a school spokesman. 


On Thursday, Colorado athletic director Rick George threw his support behind Sanders as he attempts to build a winner in Boulder. 

“I have confidence in him and his staff, and they know what they’re doing,” George told ESPN following the Pac-12’s spring meetings. “He’s been very honest and forthright. He’s been very open about it publicly and privately. He’s trying to build a winner at Colorado, and this is his way to do it.”

Sanders made it clear from the moment he stepped on campus that changes were coming to the program. 

In his first meeting with returning players, Sanders told them to “go ahead and jump in that [transfer] portal” as he was bringing players with him from Jackson State. 

While some players left the program voluntarily, the NCAA stipulates that first-year head coaches may cut players from the roster, though the university must honor the players’ scholarships

AD Rick George and Deion Sanders talk

Deion Sanders, CUs new head football coach, and athletic director Rick George, right, chat in the Arrow Touchdown Club during a press conference on December 4, 2022, in Boulder, Colorado.  (Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)


“When [Sanders] first came in, he said, ‘There’s a lot of people here who may not be here,’ because he evaluated and looked at the talent on our team,” George told ESPN. “He’s just publicly stated it, where a lot of people don’t. We’re not the first to do this. The NCAA rule says you can have those discussions. If a student-athlete wants to stay, they can stay. The university has to pay for them, they don’t count on your scholarship limits, and they’re not on the team.”

Sanders made headlines last week when offensive lineman Travis Gray revealed the way he was cut from the team. 

Gray received a text message from offensive line coach Bill O’Boyle the day after Colorado’s Spring Game, asking him to come to the team facility to meet with Sanders. 

“He’s walking with me and said, ‘Hey buddy, you’re going to get cut today. I’m sorry to tell you this. I didn’t want you to hear it from Coach Prime. I wanted you to hear it from my mouth. I didn’t want to cut you, but we had to cut five offensive linemen, and you were the last one,’” Gray told The Athletic on Tuesday evening.


Gray walked into Sanders’ office and received news that he would no longer be a part of Colorado’s football team

Deion Sanders coaches during the Spring Game

Colorado head coach Deion Sanders plays to the fans in the first half of the team’s spring practice NCAA college football game Saturday, April 22, 2023, in Boulder, Colo.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

“I was like, ‘Oh, God.’ I saw the mean mug in his face,” Gray said. “He told me, ‘You’re 6-foot-8, 320 pounds. I know in my heart of hearts a school is going to pick you up in the portal when you enter. Make your weaknesses your strengths, and keep progressing. I hope you have a great future, it just won’t be here at the University of Colorado.'”

Colorado is coming off a 1-11 season, its worst record since 2012. 

And while some are questioning the way Sanders is going about rebuilding the roster, George fully supports Coach Prime.

“Coach is doing what he thinks is best for this program,” George said. “I support that. The rule is in place for a reason. It gives us the ability to do those kinds of things. Any student-athlete who doesn’t want to leave, we’ll honor their scholarship. We’ll pay for it, and we’ve done that.”

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