CU admissions open up on Colorado football HC Deion Sanders' impact on applications

USC v Colorado
USC v Colorado / Dustin Bradford/GettyImages

CU Assistant Vice Chancellor of Admissions Jennifer Ziegenfus acknowledged that Colorado football head coach Deion Sanders has brought a renewed energy to Boulder since taking over the Buffs, but she wouldn't equate his presence to the increase in applications to the University of Colorado Boulder.

“No doubt, the exposure that Boulder has received since coach Prime was hired has been tremendous,” Ziegenfus said (h/t Denver7). “It obviously showcases that a number of our national media outlets are attracting applicants from all over the world.”

“But it's really difficult for us to draw that causational line between coach prime and this applicant increase, primarily because applications for CU Boulder specifically for first-year students has been steadily increasing since 2000. So seeing an increase this year is anticipated in sort of continuing with the trend that we've seen over the last few years. But certainly the hiring of Coach Prime has been a great contribution. And also just great for anecdotal conversation too, as we're encountering students all over the country and globally, too.”

For real? Ziegenfus can't in good conscience prioritize what Coach Prime means to all of the prospective students over the education they'd be paying hundreds of thousands to get. But a good number of those kids are looking to see history and make memories in Folsom Field, not in statistics class.

Coach Prime's arrival made Colorado football an unprofitable program

The "Prime Effect" was felt by businesses across Boulder and Denver that saw increased foot traffic due to the arrival of one of football's biggest personalities. But the arrival of a whole new coaching staff -- not to mention unreported NIL pay-for-play figures that still aren't public -- helped bring Colorado athletics a budget deficit. The Pac-12's withholding of funds to everyone but Wazzu and Oregon State also had a hand.

"Lower than expected distribution from the Pac-12 Conference and the cost of a coaching change in football contributed to the University of Colorado athletics department recording a deficit of nearly $9.9 million for the 2023 fiscal year," BuffZone's Brian Howell wrote. "CU also recorded record numbers for operating expenses and revenue and a dramatic increase in direct institutional support.

"In the recently published NCAA financial report for the 2023 fiscal year, CU showed a net loss of $9,086,178. The NCAA report includes some accounting differences due to definitions of certain revenues and expenses that they include which differ from CU’s actual budget. According to numbers provided by CU to, the athletic department actually operated at a loss of $9,896,846 for the 2023 fiscal year."

Things will even out in 2024 with the Big 12 payouts not being withheld. Colorado football will have CU well in the green soon.

And when that happens, Coach Prime deserves to do his best Roman Reigns impression and command the university to acknowledge him.