Prime Prep told District 11-3A on Friday that the new charter school didn’t have enough eligible athletes to field a varsity team under district rules and requested the school be allowed to field a junior varsity team against district opponents.
Prime Prep draws students from 19 school districts, but only those who reside in the Dallas Independent School District are allowed to play varsity sports in the first year of the school’s existence.
Aaron Emeyabbi, football coach at Ferris High, said he suggested that District 11-3A ban Prime Prep this season from all sports, at all levels, and the executive committee agreed.
“Our senior football players are now only going to get nine games in their last year,” Emeyabbi said. “If Prime Prep Academy forced us to drastically alter everybody’s varsity schedule, they would not hesitate to do the same on the JV level. It would be one thing if the paperwork was done right, but it’s not. To me, it’s not about Deion Sanders and Prime Prep, it’s about what’s best for the people of Ferris.”
D.L. Wallace, Sanders’ business partner and co-founder of Prime Prep, said the school probably would appeal.
“I have not been forwarded the meeting minutes,” said Wallace. “If they are outlined the way I heard it from our interim athletic director, there certainly will be an appeal coming. If the district executive committee made that ruling, it is outside their scope of powers.”
Sanders said his school has been aboveboard in all athletic matters, adding he’s driving four hours a day to help inner-city Dallas students.
“They can’t do that,” he said of the district vote. “We are in the good graces of the (University Interscholastic League). The district is just upset about the athletes we’re getting and my hiring of Ray Forsett (from nationally ranked Grace Prep in Arlington, Texas) as basketball coach. This isn’t about athletics. It’s about education. The dropout rate in Dallas is 53%, and we’re trying to change that.”
Mark Cousins, director of athletics for the University Interscholastic League, the state’s main governing body for high school activities, said it’s common for a new school to have difficulty gearing up to varsity competition.
“It’s not unusual for new school and it’s not unusual for schools that have been in existence for a while,” Cousins said. “There are any number of reasons a school may have to drop from varsity competition.”
Like Wallace, Cousins said he hadn’t received the minutes from the 11-3A meeting.
“We don’t know anything official yet,” Cousins said. “If it is as reported, (Prime Prep) would certainly have an appeal to the state executive committee.”
For now, Parish Episcopal (Dallas) football coach Scott Nady said he still expects his team, which plays in the Texas Association of Private and Private Schools, to play Prime Prep in its football opener Aug. 31.
“We are 100% planning on playing the game,” Nady said. “The most important thing for us is that 100 kids get to play a football game. It’s impossible to get another game this late. If they couldn’t play, it would be terrible.”