Prime Prep Accused of Recruiting Student-Athletes

By Randy McIlwain
|  Wednesday, Oct 3, 2012  |  Updated 8:12 PM CDT
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Deion Sanders met with District 11-3A's executive committee Wednesday about the eligibility of players at his Prime Prep Academy.

Randy McIlwain, NBC 5 News

Deion Sanders met with District 11-3A's executive committee Wednesday about the eligibility of players at his Prime Prep Academy.

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Two North Texas high school football coaches allege that Deion Sanders' new charter school is recruiting athletes from other schools.

District 11-3A's executive committee met Wednesday to discuss the eligibility of student-athletes who transferred to Prime Prep Academy, which opened this school year.

"My professional opinion is that these kids were influenced to change schools for athletic purposes," said Joey Florence, Denton Ryan High School football coach.

Florence said he lost three players to Prime Prep, kids he said were influenced by participating in Sanders' TRUTH youth sports organization.

"It was deception all spring," he said. "In a 24-hour period, two of the three kids walk in and [say], 'Coach, I'm transferring to Prime Prep,' and they were deceptive."

Sanders denies any recruiting. He said the parents of two of the former Denton Ryan students are active volunteers in TRUTH and live in Dallas, which factored into their decisions. Sanders said his school's curriculum and the lack of tuition to attend his public charter school also contributed to their decisions.

However, the football allegations are minor compared to the accusations swirling around Prime Prep's basketball team.

Several basketball players considered by national recruiting services to be Division I prospects transferred to Prime Prep from Arlington's Grace Prep. Prime Prep head coach Ray Forsett previously coached at Grace Prep.

"I only can vote on what I see, even when I see a whole basketball team transition to another school with their coach," said Aaron Emeyabbi, Ferris High School football coach.

He said the move was dubious at best. Most of the basketball players transferred from outside the district and now all have Dallas addresses.

"I think you should question the parents, not me," Sanders said. "Question the parents."

The District 11-3A's executive committee must vote up or down on each athlete's eligibility based on the student's Previous Athletic Participation Form, which establishes residency and the student's reason for transferring.

The committee said many of the PAPF forms for Prime Prep's student-athletes are incomplete and must be properly filled out by its next emergency meeting on Oct. 10.

"Whether it's falsified or not, I can only vote on what I see," Emeyabbi said.

He said he believed that Prime Prep Academy would produce the proper forms but said the paperwork might not tell the whole story of how a student chose Prime Prep.

Under the rules of the University Interscholastic League, which governs high school athletics in Texas, students cannot transfer to another school for the sole purpose of playing a sports.

"The paperwork and everything that they ask for we will provide it and prove that we were way above board," Sanders said.

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