The Colorado athletic department won't be taking members of the C-Unit student section to the Pac-12 Tournament or the NCAA Tournament if the Buffs earn a spot in March Madness.

Athletic director Rick George informed the C-Unit of the change earlier this season, explaining that the department cannot afford to pay for the flight and hotel accommodations for the 50 most diehard student supporters of the school's athletic programs the way it did the past two years under former athletic director Mike Bohn.

However, CU is still providing 50 tickets to members of the C-Unit to attend the Pac-12 Tournament. Those students simply have to pay for their travel and accommodations.

"We just don't have the money," George said. "I'd love to do it. I think our students, the C-Unit, is phenomenal. They do a great job.

"However, I can't put a budget number in there to allow students to go to a game when I don't have enough to do something for one of my sports programs here. I just can't do it."

CU received positive national attention two years ago when Bohn first decided to take 50 students to the Pac-12 Tournament in Los Angeles. The men's team won four consecutive games in the tournament that season to capture its first Pac-12 men's basketball championship and an NCAA Tournament berth.

Coach Tad Boyle said having so much support at the tournament gave CU games a home-court feel and helped the Buffs capture the title.


Bohn doubled up by also taking members of the C-Unit to the NCAA Tournament in Albuquerque in 2012. At the time, Bohn said the travel and accommodations for students were paid for by private donations. CU also took 50 students to the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas last season.

CU students earn one of the 50 spots as a reward for attending both men's and women's games.

George said he does not know how the trips were paid for in the past, but he said the department did not budget for those costs last summer when it went through the budgeting process under interim athletic director Ceal Barry, before he was hired.

George said there are no plans to budget for it next year or in the near future because the department is trying to pay off nearly $30 million in debt to the school. George said he inherited a $5.6 million budget shortfall created by poor ticket sales in football. He said he can't entertain the idea of bringing back the postseason trip for select members of the C-Unit until the department gets its financial house in order.

"We're going to have to allocate our resources, both human and financial, in a way that is a little more streamlined," George said. "We can't do some of the things we've done. It's not because we don't want to. I'm not the ogre that says, 'I don't like the students.' It's not that at all. It's just we've got to be smart on how we allocate our resources."

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