Written by Corbett Smith
Prime Prep scolded by 11-3A DEC for disorganization, lack of transparency
Deion Sanders’ Prime Prep Academy might not be ready for prime time, after all.
The charter school, slated to play a nine-game varsity football schedule this season in its first year of existence, told the District 11-3A executive committee Friday morning it would not be able to field a varsity football team.
But after Prime Prep’s interim athletic director Cleveland Starr broke the news to visibly surprised coaches and administrators, things took an unexpected turn. In footage provided to The Dallas Morning News by WFAA investigative reporter Brett Shipp, the executive committee voted to not only exclude Prime Prep from district participation in football, but in all sports at all high school levels.
The prohibition however doesn’t prevent Prime Prep from playing a full slate of nondistrict games.
“This is a big disappointment,” Starr told Shipp. “What happens from here, we will just have to wait and see.”
Arriving late to the meeting, Starr told the committee that up to 80 percent of Prime Prep’s 30 football players lived outside of the school’s home boundary, making them ineligible for varsity.
For this season, according to UIL rules regarding charter schools, a student who resides within Dallas ISD’s boundaries would be eligible to play varsity sports at Prime Prep right away. Prime Prep, however, can accept students from other districts. Those students would be ineligible for varsity athletics for a year.
Starr floated the idea that Prime Prep could play at the sub-varsity level in football, but that suggestion was swept aside by committee members. They also scolded Starr for Prime Prep’s lack of transparency and for deadlines the school missed over the summer for providing information to other district members.
As the meeting progressed, the administrators became increasing irritated at Starr, who, for example, did not provide any coaching contact information for all but three sports, nor could he give the committee Previous Athletic Participation Forms for any prospective volleyball players.
Prodded by chairwomen Marian Willard, the principal of Dallas Madison, the committee voted twice, once to “sever ties” on the varsity level, then again regarding all sports at the high school level.
The vote twice passed unanimously, by other District 11-3A members — Madison, Roosevelt, Wilmer-Hutchins, Ferris and Irving North Hills — despite two recommendations by Dallas ISD assistant athletic director Goree Johnson to “stick with the sports at hand,” football and volleyball.
Before knowing the full details of the district executive committee meeting, Prime Prep co-founder D.L. Wallace said any prohibition apart from varsity football would overstep the bounds of the committee.
DISD athletic director Jeff Johnson said the meeting’s recommendation will go to the state’s executive board for approval.
Staff writer Greg Riddle contributed to this report.
Follow Corbett Smith on Twitter at @corbettsmithDMN