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New York Times takes a closer look at Prime Prep

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From time to time, the charter school co-founded by Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders makes news.  Rarely good news.

From an alleged assault committed by Sanders to Sanders being fired to Sanders being rehired to Sanders being fired and rehired again to the charter school losing its charter, the signs of dysfunction have become obvious.  But the force of Sanders’ celebrity and personality have managed to keep hope alive — and maybe even to keep him and others out of jail.

That could change based on the examination of Prime Prep conducted by Michael Powell of the New York Times.  It paints the picture of a guy who opted to parlay his brand into a vehicle for enhancing that brand via the accumulation of great young athletes.  And maybe to make a little money along the way.

For example, Powell reports that the original proposal for the charter school explained that Sanders’ company, PrimeTimePlayer, “shall introduce” the school to “its vast corporate circle of influence,” which was “not limited to C.E.O.s, C.F.O.s.”  Of course, PrimeTimePlayer would keep 10 percent of the money raised as a fee, along with a monthly retainer ranging from $1,000 to $7,500.

The charter was awarded, because Prime Time . . . Prime Time . . . Prime Time.

“Sanders made himself available, and I was quite embarrassed by this, to pose for pictures and sign autographs for my colleagues on the board,” former Texas Board of Education member Michael Soto said regarding the charter approval process.  “The financial planning was suspect; the curriculum design was nonexistent — it was laughable.”

But the joke remains on anyone who thinks Prime Prep is dead.  Powell explains that school officials have exhibited a “striking confidence” that the school will regain its charter via the appeal process.  Sanders himself expressed optimism, via a bizarre interview he conducted with Powell.

After failing to get Sanders through more traditional vehicles of communication, Powell attended a football practice and approached Sanders when it ended.  Sanders insisted on having a witness, calling over friend and Prime Prep employee, Reginald Calhoun.  Sanders also produced a recording device.

“I asked about Prime Prep’s appeal,” Powell writes.  “[Deion] turned to Calhoun and lectured him on what an uninformed question this was, as if Calhoun had asked it. I tried another question, and Sanders again lectured Calhoun on his stupidity. Then Sanders told me he was having a private conversation.

“He turned and gave me a piercing stare, his megawatt [smile] gone cobalt. He walked off with a touch of swagger.”

That swagger has taken Sanders far.  At some point, it may no longer work.  He hasn’t reached that point yet, and possibly never will.

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28 Responses to “New York Times takes a closer look at Prime Prep”
  1. thestrategyexpert says: Aug 10, 2014 10:37 AM

    How about a football school that focuses on the finer fundamentals of the games of ball and life, and leave the swagger at home for when the education process is complete first? Maybe this swagger stuff is more silly than helpful to young minds.

  2. 4thquartermagic says: Aug 10, 2014 10:46 AM

    Pretty bizarre.

    It’s crazy how fame and fortune make you lose touch with reality.

    But it also seems as though Sanders takes it one step further.

  3. 1pwrightt says: Aug 10, 2014 10:48 AM

    I watched his TV series and it all seemed gimmicky. He keeps saying how he is putting his money out to keep the school going. I wonder what his interest rate is when he collects.

  4. longsufferingkcfan says: Aug 10, 2014 10:50 AM

    Any parent who would consider sending their child to that school needs to seriously contemplate their priorities.

  5. ufanforreal says: Aug 10, 2014 10:54 AM

    Prime Time = con man though and though.

  6. onbucky96 says: Aug 10, 2014 11:18 AM

    Another shinning example of the high character on air talent at NFLN. Saap, Sharper, Neon Deion…

  7. ugk612 says: Aug 10, 2014 11:47 AM

    I like Deion and all BUT this does sound shady!

  8. kd75 says: Aug 10, 2014 11:50 AM

    Di Blasio would have a field day with this guy…

  9. rolltide510 says: Aug 10, 2014 12:06 PM

    Seems “Prime” should quit while he’s ahead, before he finds himself in a courtroom. Judges aren’t likely to be impressed by “swag”.

  10. jlinatl says: Aug 10, 2014 12:06 PM

    I am surprised the NY Times author didn’t ask the NFL (Network) for a quote.

    They are his employer and the point of the “school” seems to be to prep kids to be come pros.

  11. 4grammarpolice says: Aug 10, 2014 12:21 PM

    Welcome to the world of charter schools, where it’s all about who you grease. Public schools need more support. Businessmen and politicians do not have your child’s best interest in mind (and never will).

  12. gorilladunk says: Aug 10, 2014 12:34 PM

    The local ABC affiliate in DFW has done several, excellent reports on Prime Prep. I think the school started with good intentions but, as is usually the case, large egos took over. The whole thing is now a joke. Good football and basketball teams seem to be the number one priority. Education….well if you learn something along the way, that’s just a bonus.

  13. joecool16280 says: Aug 10, 2014 1:05 PM

    He’s probably the best CB to ever play but anyone with a touch of skepticism could see through the smile/act. There never has been any depth with this guy and has always gotten by on his charisma. People love being linked to that as long as it’s positive for them.

  14. rupp246 says: Aug 10, 2014 1:13 PM

    I wish guys like this would just go away. Why can’t they just take there money and go retire on some island somewhere. It’s always about themselves and money. What a joke.

  15. tinbender2000 says: Aug 10, 2014 1:36 PM

    Deion “Donald Trump” Sanders

  16. quickstrong says: Aug 10, 2014 1:39 PM

    Follow the money

  17. 34defense2014 says: Aug 10, 2014 1:40 PM

    Another Women beater/ Womanizer on top of the world!!!)

  18. pftpoetisloosebuthole says: Aug 10, 2014 2:20 PM

    To circumvent all the red tape just pull out bibles for an hour a day. Most bureaucracies will not touch religious charter schools. Send me a check Deion!

  19. ichiganian says: Aug 10, 2014 2:22 PM

    Just another example of how stellar athletic ability does not exempt one from being a complete tool.

  20. irishlad19 says: Aug 10, 2014 2:23 PM

    He must have the backing of that intellectual giant, Gov. Rick Perry!

  21. mysterytonite says: Aug 10, 2014 3:08 PM

    “But this is a Football Vocational School, not an institution of higher learning”! -Deion Sanders

  22. pftstory says: Aug 10, 2014 4:00 PM

    I’m not surprised the Times didn’t have a quote from the NFLN. It’s not like the Times has been showing solid jounalistic standards the past few years.
    Not sure why Perry is referenced above.

    As for public schools needing more support, and businessmen and politicians not having the kids best interests at heart.
    Public schools are run by politians who overpay adminstrators. Do you ever see the $xx,000 per child expense ever trickle down to the classroom where the teacher is always begging the parents to send school supplies?

    Too many schools, public and private need improvement or total restructuring.

  23. johnnybaggadonuts says: Aug 10, 2014 6:27 PM

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you exhibit #126772 in Rick Perry’s Insane Texas: Prime Time Prep happens.

  24. brimab says: Aug 10, 2014 10:26 PM

    Oh how I wish Deion would just shut up and go away.

  25. richndc says: Aug 10, 2014 11:47 PM

    Deion Sanders a fraud and an egotist? eh, how is this news again???

  26. axespray says: Aug 11, 2014 12:36 AM

    You’re telling me that a member of the 90s cowboys is shady?


  27. tommyribs says: Aug 11, 2014 10:26 AM

    Deion sander is the equivalent of a bucket with a hole in it.

  28. blackman2 says: Aug 12, 2014 12:50 AM

    The fraud started with the initial application; it was filled with lies and deceit. The Texas Education Agency never vetted this group. They saw the name “Deion Sanders” and were star-strucked.

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