The most publicized team of the 2023 college football season is under the NCAA’s microscope.
Deion Sanders and Colorado lose top recruits
Colorado and Deion Sanders have been slapped with 11 minor NCAA violations since Sanders’ hiring in December 2022, according to a report by USA TODAY Sports. All the violations were self-reported from the university to the NCAA, and none are attached to serious penalties.
These minor violations happen frequently across college sports – USA TODAY mentions that Ohio State’s football team self-reported two minor violations this past season, while Alabama self-reported nine across the entire athletic department (none in football).
What bears mentioning, however, is that most of these violations came directly from the cult of personality that is Colorado head coach Deion Sanders. Sanders took a one-win football team and filled it up with transfers. While Colorado finished 4-8 on the season, Sanders helped make Colorado one of the most talked-about teams in the entire sport. His presence helped grow the Colorado football social channels from 267,000 followers to over 2.3 million. He landed a College GameDay bid for the school’s rivalry game with Colorado State and brought a Prime Video documentary crew to film the whole season.
That’s where the problems arose. Three of Colorado’s violations stemmed directly from posts to social media. One post by Sanders to Twitter showed a spreadsheet of recruiting prospects, breaking a rule the prohibits publicizing recruits before they sign with the school. Another Instagram post by Sanders showed the team doing voluntary workouts, another infraction.
Most violations stemmed from what helped build Sanders’ new-look Colorado team: Recruiting. Two of the violations stemmed from transfer portal violations. Five more involved recruits in some way. Sanders featured one on an Instagram Live, breaking a rule about recruits being involved in media activity. Another committed a violation for using his lanyard on an unofficial visit to gain access to a premium seating area during the USC-Colorado game. Multiple recruits participated in “gameday situations,” forbidden on official visits. One recruit even managed to gain access to the locker room for pregame speeches.
Colorado was the hottest name in football, mostly because of Deion’s ability to market the team. All that comes at a cost, though. Because of the minor violations, Colorado loses recruiting days, access to certain recruits, and sets itself up for worse punishment later.