Colorado football self-reported 11 minor NCAA violations from Deion Sanders’ first year with Buffs

The Colorado football program has self-reported 11 minor NCAA violations since the hiring of head coach Deion Sanders in December of 2022.

USA Today first reported on the violations Thursday, which included five minor – or Level III – violations from other CU teams, as well. As noted by USA Today, the violations are common among most major college athletic departments. None of the violations by CU brought serious penalties.

In a statement to BuffZone, CU said: “The University of Colorado Boulder Athletic Department is committed to complying with NCAA regulations and will continue to educate our coaches, student-athletes, and staff to ensure that we remain in compliance. We take all infractions seriously, regardless of the severity, and in these specific cases, these minor infractions were all self-reported to the NCAA. This demonstrates the effectiveness of our established compliance systems which are the basis of our department’s positive partnership with the NCAA.”

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Among the football violations, the most significant penalty stemmed from a transfer portal violation when CU hosted a postgraduate camp on May 30 for high school graduates and transfers. There were more than 350 players at the camp and CU realized later that seven players participated who were not yet in the transfer portal.

CU self-imposed a two-week recruiting ban for its staff from June 15-28, as well as a one-day recruiting ban for Dec. 4, 2023, the first day of the 30-day transfer portal window. In addition, the seven recruits were deemed permanently ineligible at CU.

Sanders and CU have been heavily active on social media, but that has led to a few violations.

On May 16, Sanders did a livestream on Instagram, during which four-star recruit Aaron Butler was featured as he gave his verbal commitment to CU. Sanders mentioned several times he couldn’t talk to Butler or even mention his name because it would be a violation, but Butler simply appearing on the video was a minor violation. CU’s coaches were removed from on-the-road recruiting and no player evaluations were allowed for a week. Butler later signed with Texas.

Two other violations involving the social media team were also reported, leading to rules education for the staff.

There were two violations for “gameday simulations” with recruits.

In January of 2023, cornerback Cormani McClain, now a rising sophomore with the Buffs, took an official visit and a photo was taken of him, in uniform, lining up “in an athletic stance” across from Sanders on Folsom Field. That was viewed as a “gameday simulation,” leading to CU having one permissible contact with McClain taken away and rules education for the staff.

During the season, former Buffs defensive lineman Matt McChesney was on the field for a game with his son and they went to the locker room for the pregame speech before heading to the field with the team. McChesney has had field access for years, but because his son is now a recruitable athlete, it was determined to be a “gameday simulation” for a recruit. Per the USA Today report, rules education was provided to the staff and McChesney had field access revoked for the remainder of the season.

Other violations included:

• An intern conducted a 30-minute yoga session with the team on Aug. 16, but because the intern wasn’t one of the five declared strength and conditioning staffers, it was a violation. The team had countable athletic activities reduced by one hour for the next day and the staff had to have rules education.

• In December of 2022, a high school coach submitted an academic transcript for a transfer, Joshua Kelly, who had not yet entered the portal. CU’s compliance staff required the football staff to cease recruiting Kelly. There was never direct contact with Kelly, but the staff had to have rules education.

• On May 19, linebackers coach Andre Hart was evaluating players at a spring game. A recruit asked Hart to take a picture with him and then posted it online. That was declared “impermissible contact” with a recruit. Hart self-reported the violation and CU reduced contacts with the recruit by two and removed six recruiting person days in 2023-24.

• At the Sept. 30 game against USC, a recruit on an unofficial visit got access to a premium seating area where tickets were valued at $475. Rules education was required for the staff.

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