The decision came after a brief discussion during which members raised questions about the schools' academic rigor and Sanders' involvement.
"I have no idea what the applicant plans to do in the classroom, how they plan to instruct the TEKS," said Michael Soto, D-San Antonio, adding, "I have no idea what they plan to offer in a day to day classroom experience."
Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant, cautioned that he did not want the charter application process to turn into "the celebrity-of-the-month club."
Mavis Knight, D-Dallas, said she had to "wrestle with myself to keep from penalizing opportunities for students because of the celebrity involved" but concluded that "there are probably more resources" coming to the students because of it.
"I'm convinced learning will take place in that classroom," she said.
Sanders' Prime Prep, a reference to his nickname, "Prime Time," was among 14 applicants for 11 available charter spots. It aims to focus on both sports and education and will have two campuses in the Forth Worth area, with between 650 and 1,000 students at each.
Currently an NFL Network analyst, Sanders played professional football for the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens. He also played major league baseball for the New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds and the San Francisco Giants.
He also runs a youth athletic league, and he told The Dallas Morning News that part of his inspiration to start the charter school three years ago was he watching 1,200 kids try out: "I sat up in the top of the bleachers and said, ‘This would be wonderful if we would educate these kids. We could marry the two. Why can’t we do such a thing?'”
Uplift Fort Worth — which is not affiliated with Uplift Education, a Dallas-Fort Worth charter network with 19 schools — sponsored Sanders' application.
Shortly after his application was approved, Sanders tweeted: "GOD IS GOOD! WE GOT IT WE GOT IT WE GOT IT! IM IN TEARS LORD I THANK U LORD I THANK U! PRIMEU PREP ACADEMY WILL OPEN IN 2012 K-12 FREE FREE"