NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders is trying to open a charter school called Prime Prep Academy in Dallas, and it's not going well. Prime Prep had previously announced its intention to play varsity sports in its inception year, with the school slated to open this fall. Athletics-wise, Prime Prep was planning to compete in District 11-3A.
Last week, Prime Prep's interim athletic director Cleveland Starr told the teams in District 11-3A that Prime Prep would not be competing in varsity football this season. The reason? Apparently 80% of its 30-man roster lives outside the school's boundaries, making those students ineligible for varsity play this year according to district regulations. According to the Dallas Morning News, out of district students have to attend school for more than a year before becoming varsity-eligible. Because of this, Prime Prep announced its intention to play a four-game JV schedule this year and start its varsity program next year.
The late announcement of this has clearly rankled interested parties, including the conference teams scheduled to play Prime Prep. To add insult to, well, more insult, the UIL's District Executive Committee went one step further when it banned Prime Prep from participating in all sports, both varsity and non-varsity, this season. Before the ruling, Prime Prep had stated its intention to participate in other varsity sports while just fielding a JV football team. Currently, Prime Prep plans to appeal the decision to the state UIL board.
This is notable because, despite having the "Neon Deion" brand behind it, Prime Prep was actually set to make immediate waves in another sport: basketball. The school had recently hired head coach Ray Forsett, formerly at Arlington Grace Prep. At Grace Prep, Forsett coached a certain high-profile hoopster and future Baylor Bear--five-star center Isaiah Austin. More importantly, Grace Prep was set to return a trio of stars: rising seniors Karviar Shepherd and Jordan Mickey, and rising junior Emmanuel Mudiay. Shepherd and Mickey are top 50 prospects in the 2013 class, while Mudiay is a five-star point guard in the 2014 class. All three are being recruited by the top Big 12 programs and other high major programs across the country.
Rumors had swirled that one or more of Grace Prep's star players would follow Forsett to Prime Prep. The rumors remain, and were only heightened when the City of Palms Classic, one of the premier high school basketball tournaments in the country, published that Prime Prep would be a participant with all three players in tow. A team with Shepherd, Mickey and Mudiay would have scorched earth in Class 3A play and brought national recognition to Prime Prep. But with the district's ruling, that future remains uncertain.
Sanders has taken his outrage public, chastising the "system" for unfairly focusing on Prime Prep's football issues. He has stated that Prime Prep still intends to play varsity sports this year, and is more about just athletics. Academically, Prime Prep lists an enrollment of between 300-400 students just ready to go "back to school." Of course, "Prime" can't resist poking the bear a little bit.
DISD u have a 53% drop out rate with African American males & u worried about Sports. Focus on the main thang & not my thang. Lets educate!— DeionSanders (@DeionSanders) August 17, 2012
Pending appeal, Prime Prep can choose to play sports as a freelance program, non-sanctioned by the UIL. But the promises of a Prime Prep dream school and #Winning ways? Right now, "a big joke" and a "Prime Time Scam" seem to be more appropriate terms.