Prime Prep to play football in Texas Christian Athletic League (TCAL)
After withdrawing from the University Interscholastic League in its first year of existence, Prime Prep Academy has joined the Texas Christian Athletic League, TCAL executive director Darryl Crain said Tuesday.
“TCAL offers competitive athletics and a strong governing body,” Prime Prep co-founder and executive director DL Wallace said in an email. “The combination of those two factors, along with the flexibility to participate with other organizations and leagues for additional academic and athletic competition (such as TCSAAL), made TCAL an easy choice for the upcoming year.”
Crain said that Prime Prep, a charter school that was co-founded by Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders and opened last school year, will compete in TCAL in football, girls basketball, boys and girls cross country and boys and girls track. Wallace said Prime Prep will also try to field teams in baseball and softball.
“Our organization, to be competitive with other organizations in the state, needs 11-man football. They assist us in providing that,” Crain said. “We’re excited about having their 11-man football program and then potentially in the future seeing how to work in their boys basketball program as well.
“They weren’t going to be able to come into our organization [in boys basketball] because some players followed their coach [to Prime Prep]. We basically follow UIL rules, so that wasn’t going to be able to happen this year.”
Prime Prep withdrew from the UIL in November after four boys basketball players were ruled ineligible, with the 11-3A DEC saying they transferred for athletic purposes when they left Arlington Grace Prep and joined former Grace Prep coach Ray Forsett at the Dallas school. Prime Prep then played a national schedule in boys basketball and went 37-2 and reached the semifinals of the prestigious National High School Invitational.
“In Christian and charter schools, kids transfer in all the time. That’s a normal part of our process,” Crain said. “The thing is, we can’t allow players to follow coaches from program to program.”
Crain said that if Prime Prep can follow “the rules that we have,” it might be able to compete in TCAL in boys basketball in the 2014-15 school year. Wallace said that in 2013-14, Prime Prep will play a schedule similar to last season’s, then might look to compete in TCAL the following year.
Crain said this will be the first season in which TCAL has had 11-man football and that there will be four to six schools competing, including Prime Prep. He said schools will play an independent schedule during the regular season, then play each other in the playoffs, with seeding determined by a MaxPreps.com ranking. Wallace said Prime Prep plans to play at least 10 games, not including the playoffs, and will release its schedule later this month.
Prime Prep was scheduled to play eight football games last season, but in August it told the 11-3A DEC that it wouldn’t be able to field a varsity team because up to 80 percent of its 30 football players lived outside of the school’s home boundary, making them ineligible for varsity play.
The DEC tried to ban Prime Prep from district participation in all varsity and sub-varsity sports, but in September it rescinded that vote with the exception of football.
Prime Prep played nondistrict football games against Parish Episcopal, Bishop Dunne, Millwood (Okla.), Pittsburg and Melissa. Prime Prep’s only win was against Pittsburg.
TCAL started in 1991, and its office is located in San Antonio. It is comprised of charter schools, Christian schools, private schools with no religious affiliation and home school organizations.
Crain said membership was down to eight or nine schools in 2009, but he said about 80 schools will be members of TCAL at the start of the upcoming school year.
Other TCAL members in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are Agape Christian Academy in Corsicana, Cleburne Christian Academy, Cornerstone Christian Academy in Granbury, Newman International Academy of Arlington, North Cities Christian Academy in Garland, Phoenix Charter School in Greenville, Texas (Torah) Institute in Dallas, Texas Home Educators’ Sports Association (THESA) and Weatherford Express Home School.