Former Dallas Cowboys defensive back and current University of Colorado head football coach Deion Sanders called out the NCAA over its stance on mental health as his team prepares for its first game this weekend.
While holding his weekly press conference on Tuesday in Boulder, Sanders was asked about offensive lineman Tyler Brown, a transfer who the NCAA ruled ineligible for the upcoming season.
“That hurt tremendously,” Sanders replied. “He’s a kid that’s dear to me, like a darn son to me. This is one of those moments when one side of me is saying, ‘Shut up, Coach.’ The other one’s saying, ‘Go get it.’ [I’m going to] go get it.”
“…You say you really care about mental health, but when you have someone really dealing with mental health, there’s a problem,” he continued. “And then ostracizing him and not allowing him to do what he’s blessed and gifted to do and the thing that presents him peace, that’s trying for a young man.”
“He’s not the only one. There’s a plethora of people around the country,” Sanders added. “I think this is the year they said no to darn near everybody, but Tyler Brown, I wish they could review that and understand that. … It’s unbelievable. Isn’t it? Do you really care, or are you just saying you care? Or do you care when it’s convenient or when it’s profitable?”
The NCAA recently amended its transfer rules to only allow undergraduate student athletes who transfer on multiple occasions to have immediate eligibility if the reason for the transfer was due to physical or mental health issues. Brown, who came with Sanders from Jackson State, falls under that category, yet the NCAA denied his waiver.
Sanders has dealt with mental health issues himself in the past, so he understands what these players are going through and how difficult their struggles can be.
During an appearance on a podcast in 2021, Sanders opened up about the stress of his divorce and custody battle and bouts with depression. He also reflected on feeling “empty” and having “no peace, no joy” during parts of his playing career in his 1999 autobiography Power, Money & Sex: How Success Almost Ruined My Life.
Colorado begins its season in Fort Worth against No.17 TCU at 11 a.m. CT on Saturday.