On Thursday afternoon, news broke that Jordan Mickey and Karviar Shepard were ruled non-qualifiers by the NCAA, likely due to the fact that they attended Prime Prep, Deion Sanders’ charter school in Dallas, last season.
There were two facts that made this case interesting: for starters, the No. 3 player in the Class of 2014, Emmanuel Mudiay, and a top ten recruit in the Class of 2015, Elijah Thomas, both attend Prime Prep, which could call into question whether or not they will be able to get eligible to play in college.
More intriguing, however, is the fact that Prime Prep announced that the school had taken the “preliminary steps” to NCAA certification and that their prospects would be eligible for “individual review” by the NCAA Eligibility Center. But did they ever complete the certification process? Based on the quotes from Jeff Goodman’s sources in this story, it doesn’t look like it.
“The kids were misled by the school,” one source told ESPN.com. “Everyone told them there wouldn’t be any issues.”
John Infante of the Bylaw Blog did some digging and tried to explain exactly what happened in this case. The first thing to note is that this disclaimer appears at the top of the list of approved core courses on Prime Prep’s page on the Eligibility Center’s website:
“This program is under an extended evaluation period to determine if it meets the academic requirements for NCAA cleared status. During this evaluation period, the courses listed below may be subject to further review on a case-by-case basis, which will require additional academic documentation.”
That means when prospective student-athletes from Prime Prep submits their transcripts to the Eligibility Center, they likely also have to submit additional information, such as grade books, course stop-start dates and assignment dates, detailed course outlines, even copies of assignments, quizzes, and exams completed by the student.
What the NCAA is trying to determine is that the courses it has approved are being taught in an academically sound manner. When a school submits a new course or especially when a new school establishes its list for the first time, all the NCAA has is how the school plans to teach the course. The PSA Review process is then used to determine if the course is actually being taught according to the approved plan.
One of the issues may be with how Prime Prep educates. They use a program called VSchoolz, a digital learning system described in this report from last November as “mostly used by only a handful of schools nationwide as a credit recovery or supplemental education resource”.
This is how Mudiay described his classes on Thursday when NBCSports.com asked him about it: “It’s on a laptop. It’s called VSchoolz. It teaches you everything in there, and they’ve got a teacher in there in case you need any assistance.”
So you’re getting classes over the internet?
“Yeah, but next year I think they’re going to change it.”
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.