NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES
DALLAS — The District 11-3A Executive Committee reversed field Wednesday and decided to let Deion Sanders' Prime Prep Academy field a varsity team in all sports except football — as long as they adhere to University Interscholastic League rules.
But there may be a new problem for the football team, which had planned on playing a junior varsity schedule this year.
Questions have surfaced about head coach Deion Sanders and his ability to manage the team. For the second meeting in a row, Marian Willard, chairperson of the District 11-3A Executive Committee, called out officials of Sanders' start-up charter school, Prime Prep Academy.
"We are getting ready to play, and you all did not respect the committee enough to let us know that you were not going to have a varsity sport," Willard said.
Two weeks ago, the committee gave all Prime Prep athletics the death penalty for the year.
On Wednesday, committee members voted to give the school a reprieve, letting its athletes participate in every other varsity sport in the coming year except football, as long as they follow UIL rules.
"I think that going forward, whatever we need to do on our end to become better partners, I'll make sure that we do it," pledged Prime Prep Academy Chief Executive Officer D.L. Wallace.
The committee ruled that Prime Prep Academy could continue to field a junior varsity football team, as they did last Friday night against a private school.
But can the team continue to play under head coach Deion Sanders?
According to UIL rules:
"...a school is not eligible for UIL competition in an athletic activity unless the head coach and assistant high school coaches are full time employees..."
The rules also state the head coach has to be "under contract ... and has enough contractual duties to be considered a full time employee."
But does former NFL star and current NFL broadcaster Deion Sanders really work full time at Prime Prep Academy? We put the question to school D.L. Wallace in the following exchange:
NEWS 8: "What else does he do at the school?:
WALLACE: “He is also the assistant to Cleveland Starr. He's learning all the ins and outs to become an effective athletic director."
NEWS 8: "Does he report to school every day?"
WALLACE: "He reports when he is supposed to report."
NEWS 8: "When is that?"
WALLACE: "I don't keep the school schedules."
NEWS 8: "Is he a full-time employee?"
WALLACE: "Of course, of course he is."
So if Deion Sanders is the full-time assistant to Lead Administrator Cleveland Starr, Cleveland Starr should know that, right? We asked him about Sanders' role at Prime Prep Academy.
STARR: "He's one of the founders of the school."
NEWS 8: "What else?"
STARR: "I don't know all his other duties. All I know is, he's one of the coaches."
NEWS 8: "You don't know what he does? Does he show up to work every day?"
STARR: "Does he show up to work? He coaches every day."
NEWS 8: "Is that it?"
STARR: "That's it."
So if Sanders is a full-time employee at Prime Prep Academy, then News 8 poses the question of whether Sanders took a vacation day on Wednesday, because Wednesday afternoon he posted a photo on his Twitter page from New York as he was getting ready to broadcast the Cowboys-Giants game.
We tried to reach Sanders by phone Wednesday evening but were unsuccessful.