Written by Corbett Smith
11-3A rescinds decision on Prime Prep, will allow charter school to play district games in sports other than football
Prime Prep Academy’s athletics are back — at least for now.
In an expected about-face, the 11-3A district executive committee met Wednesday and — on the prompting of Ferris athletic director Aaron Emeyabbi — voted to rescind its earlier vote and allow Deion Sanders’ new charter school to tentatively participate in all varsity sports except football.
“The DEC is now in line with what we perceive is the UIL’s rules,” Prime Prep co-founder D.L. Wallace said.
According to Emeyabbi, individual sports will be handled on a case-by-case basis by the committee — made up of administrators and coaches from Madison, Roosevelt and Wilmer-Hutchins, Ferris and Irving North Hills. Prime Prep’s varsity future will be contingent on the school submitting completed previous athletic participation forms for each athlete per UIL rules, he said.
“At our last meeting … emotions were running high,” Emeyabbi said. “After thinking about it, I told Mr. Wallace that I thought we, as a committee, had a rush to judgment. In the end, we just want to do what’s right for our kids.”
The decision reversed an August vote which attempted to ban Prime Prep from all varsity and sub-varsity sports — a ruling that was an overreach of the committee’s powers, according to UIL officials.
At the previous executive committee meeting in August, Prime Prep interim athletic director Cleveland Starr told the committee that his school couldn’t field a varsity football team, since a majority of the players came from outside the school’s home attendance zone and were therefore ineligible for varsity play. The admission started a firestorm of criticism from other voting members toward Starr and Prime Prep, leading the committee to make several votes banning the charter school from participation.
On Wednesday, UIL athletic director Mark Cousins said that because of the confused nature of the August meeting, he had requested to Dallas ISD athletic director Jeff Johnson that the executive committee revisit the issue at its next opportunity.
Wallace told the executive committee on Wednesday that Prime Prep wouldn’t be competing in volleyball, because of lack of participation. According to Wallace, Prime Prep — which has around 300 high school students at its Oak Cliff campus — will participate in girls and boys basketball, baseball and track, as well as UIL academic events.
The other members of the executive committee reaffirmed Wednesday that they would not play Prime Prep with either their varsity or sub-varsity football teams. Since Prime Prep hasn’t been banned from competition from the state’s executive committee, it can still play against UIL teams on a non-district schedule. Currently, Prime Prep has three games remaining on its football schedule: Friday at Bishop Dunne, Sept. 14 at Oklahoma City Millwood and Oct. 5 at Melissa.
Sanders’ school lost its opening game to Parish Episcopal last Friday, 50-6.
Follow Corbett Smith on Twitter at @corbettsmithDMN