Deion Sanders’ new charter school football program has been tackled for a big loss before playing its first game.
Prime Prep Academy’s football program was banned from competing in district games by the District 11-3A executive committee on Friday, according to reports by WFAA-TV and The Dallas Morning News.
Prime Prep’s interim athletic director told the committee most of the team’s football players are ineligible because of residency requirements.
Charter schools receive public money, as well as private donations, but are not subject to many of the regulations of traditional public education.
The University Interscholastic League, which governs public school athletics in Texas, requires players at charter schools to sit out a year if they are transferring from an area outside the school’s designated attendance boundary.
Prime Prep Academy, co-founded by Sanders, is scheduled to open later this month in Dallas. Sanders has also pledged to be heavily involved in coaching the football team, which will have three co-head coaches.
Frustration in dealing with Prime Prep led the 11-3A committee to disqualify all of Prime Prep’s sports from varsity and junior varsity competition in 2012-13, according to WFAA’s report.
“We don’t know anything about Prime Prep,” Madison head football coach Ronald Johnson said. “We don’t know who to contact. We don’t know who to call. We don’t know who we are going to face. We don’t know if we are going to play over here or over there.”
While Sanders has not commented to media outlets, he did lash out via his Twitter feed, @Deion Sanders:
“Mr Johnson we know what u spoke in the meeting, and you’re the 1 that’s cheating. U and the others have so much dirt u ought 2b on red alert!”
District 11-3A is made up primarily of Dallas Independent School District schools. Prime Prep is within the DISD’s boundaries and was also the target of Sanders tweet Friday:
“DISD u have a 53% drop out rate with African American males and u worried about Sports. Focus on the main thang & not my thang. Lets educate!”
Prime Prep does not have a field house or a home football field. The school had scheduled eight varsity games, two fewer than normal, in its inaugural season and was to play only one home game – at a local community college. Sanders had committed to coaching the team less than two weeks ago.
The unorthodox, and seemingly unorganized, nature of Prime Prep’s athletic program led to the 11-3A committee’s decision to ban the charter school from district competition. Prime Prep interim athletic director Cleveland Starr could not tell the committee whether the school would field a varsity team this fall.
“If you can’t tell us that you have a varsity team – ‘I’m going to play a varsity team; I’m going to play a JV team’ – then you all need to just be honest and say, ‘Let us pull out. Let us start over next year,'” Madison principal Marian Willard, the committee chairperson, said in WFAA’s report.
Later, Prime Prep co-founder D.L. Wallace told The Dallas Morning News the school intends to play a four-game non-district schedule as a junior varsity program. Wallace was not at the meeting but said the school would appeal any decision that disallows Prime Prep from competing in district play in other sports.
The district executive committee’s decision doesn’t affect Prime Prep’s ability to play non-district football games. However, the coach of at least one non-district opponent, Pittsburg, told the East Texas Sports Network it will have to find an opponent to replace Prime Prep in a game scheduled for Sept. 28.
Sanders, in his Twitter feed on Friday, vowed that Prime Prep will field a team:
“PrimePrepAcademy is good we’ve been practicing daily with 30 kids that are working their butts off. We will play baby even if DISD 3A wont”