Deion Sanders' charter school to play in 3A

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas -- Get ready UIL, Prime Time is on his way.

Hidden in the shadow of the shuffling of 4A and 5A schools in the 2012 UIL realignment was the entrance of former Dallas Cowboy Deion Sanders' charter school, Prime Prep Academy, into Class 3A of the UIL.

Prime Prep Academy opens its doors this fall and will compete in multiple sports, including football, in District 11-3A.

“This is new for us," Prime Prep advisory board member Reginald Calhoun said, "so we’re building some relationships and trying to get our feet wet.”

Calhoun represented the school at Thursday’s meetings while the school’s founders continue to piece together a permanent athletic department, which includes hiring coaches.

Prior to the realignment meeting, members of the Prime Prep Academy advisory board met with UIL officials to map out the rules of eligibility with the charter school and confirm the school as a member of the organization.

Calhoun said the school’s new district mates, which includes Dallas Wilmer-Hutchins, Dallas Madison and Dallas Roosevelt, were “cautiously excited” about the addition of the charter school to district play in their preliminary exchanges.

“It’s tough right now with them adding Prime Prep Academy because we don’t know what their number will look like and we don’t have any history with them, but we’ll be fine,” Roosevelt interim head coach John Simon said. “We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

Simon said it was a “shocker” to see that Prime Prep Academy would jump right into a 3A schedule in its first year of existence, diverting from the norm of working up from 1A or 2A in the first few years. Simon said he believes Prime Prep Academy will have 2A numbers, but the school opted to play up in Class 3A.

Calhoun said Sanders will be directly and actively involved in the athletic programs of Prime Prep Academy. Sanders has been involved with his youth sports programs throughout the past several years.

Open enrollment for the academy begins March 1 and will be on a first come, first serve process through May 4. The school’s web site encourages parents to enroll early, as they believe the spots will fill up quickly. There is no tuition to attend the school.

Calhoun fielded interest from 3A Pittsburg, TAPPS Division I Plano Prestonwood Chrstian and several Mansfield ISD schools for non-district matchups in football.

Sanders and the academy board was granted its charter from the Texas State Board of Education on September 16 of last year to begin teaching high schoolers in Oak Cliff at the former site of Lobias Murray Christian Academy.

Sanders' vision for the school at the time was to create a union between the best academic teaching and the best athletic training the Metroplex has to offer.

"We plan on marrying the best of teachers academically, some of the best students academically, some of the best athletes together -- the best attitudes, the best passion and desire all intertwined to educate these guys to raise company CEOs, and not employees," Sanders said.

Thursday, excitement was flowing from Calhoun regarding the athletic steps the academy took, but the academics were still of highest priority to the board member.

“We’re doing something totally different. Not about the athletics but about the academics," Calhoun said. "When you begin to impact children’s educational opportunities, you’ve impacted that entire generation. You’ve changed lives by impacting them with education. It’s much more than athletics, even though it’s a small component of it -- it’s truly about education.”