Colorado AD Rick George backs Deion Sanders amid roster turnover

Heather DinichESPN Senior WriterMay 4, 2023, 7:47 p.m. ET4 minute read

Is the Colorado transfer exodus a concern for Deion Sanders?

Ralph Russo joins the Paul Finebaum Show to discuss the disturbing number of players being transferred out of Colorado.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — After a dizzying April in which dozens of players entered the transfer portal, Colorado athletic director Rick George remained steadfast in his support for the first-team coach’s plan. Deion Sanders year to rebuild the roster.

“I have faith in him and his team and they know what they’re doing,” George told ESPN Thursday after the Pac-12 spring meetings. “…He’s been very honest and upfront. He’s been very open about it publicly and privately. He’s trying to build a winner in Colorado, and that’s his way of doing it.”

Sanders made it clear when he was hired at Jackson State in December that players needed to be trade-ready. Since then, 57 have entered the transfer portal, according to a school spokesperson. This is an unprecedented amount in a new era of transfer rules.

The exodus began even before Sanders arrived. According to ESPN’s Stats & Information, 71 players have entered the portal since August, including those who left after a disastrous 1-11 season.

Since the portal’s inception in 2018, Colorado has recorded the most players by far, with Arkansas State being second with 50. No other school has had more than 48.

George pointed to an NCAA rule that allows first-year head coaches to remove scholarship players, but he also said some players want to leave after spring training.

“When (Sanders) first arrived he said, ‘There are a lot of people here who may not be here’ because he assessed and reviewed the talent in our team,” George said. . “He just said it publicly, where a lot of people don’t. We’re not the first to do it. The NCAA rule says you can have those discussions. If a student-athlete wants to stay, he can stay. The college has to pay for them, they don’t count against your scholarship limits, and they’re not on the team.”

According to a school spokesperson, four players have decided to stay in Colorado on scholarships but are not on the team, and George has confirmed that the university will pay for their education. The specific NCAA rule, “Help after Head Coach Departure,” states that such students will not count toward Colorado’s scholarship limit until they participate with the NCAA. crew.

George said all players visit the compliance office staff so they know the rules before making their decisions. In a separate, high-profile interview earlier in the week, Todd Berry, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, said the buzz from coaches about what’s happening in Colorado is that the intention “has not never been anyone change on a roster.”

Berry, who said he was unaware of the specifics of what was happening in Colorado other than what he read, said the first-year head coach rule “allows more ‘attrition, but not one to basically say, ‘you gotta go, you gotta go, you gotta go.'”

George questioned why the rule should not be used as Colorado has chosen.

“It was planned to have these conversations,” he said, “and if you look at first-year coaches over the last three or four years, you’ll see similar things. Maybe not that big in numbers, but when the transfer rule changed, we had 24, 25 guys who came into the transfer portal, we wanted to stay. So what’s the difference?”

Following the mass exodus, Colorado is expected to have 67 scholarship players this fall, a number that remains slightly fluid as some expected commits may not have signed on yet.

“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 these kinds of things. Any student-athlete who doesn’t want to leave, we’ll honor their scholarship. We’ll pay for it and we did. .”

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