You know the story by now, an ESPN high school football broadcast featured a school called Bishop Sycamore that lost 58-0. The blowout raised concerns about Bishop Sycamore’s legitimacy as broadcasters openly complained how they even got on a national TV game.
“Bishop Sycamore told us they had a number of Division I prospects on their roster, and to be frank, a lot of that we could not verify,” ESPN commentator Anish Shroff said on the broadcast during the second quarter. “They did not show up in our database, they did not show up in the databases of other recruiting services.”
USA Today’s Bailey Johnson noted that Bishop Sycamore’s website did not list an address, and Ohio’s listing for the school put its address as an indoor sports training complex
At least two players on the team were good enough at one point to be recruited by major college football programs. 24/7 Sports’ college football recruiting website showed at least two players from the school being recruited by big programs who play in the Football Bowl Subdivision – wide receivers Armond Scott and Jeremy Naborne.
Scott was listed as having been recruited by Syracuse, which he confirmed in June. The tweet was liked by two Syracuse coaches.
Naborne has received offers from Tennessee and TCU.
Andre Peterson, the director and founder of Bishop Sycamore, said flatly to USA Today on Monday the school was not a “scam.”
“There’s nothing that I’ve gotten out of this that would constitute it as a scam because I’m not gaining anything financially from what we’re doing. The reality of it is that I have a son (Javan) that’s also in the program and has been in the program for four years,” he said.
“If it’s a scam and the kids are not going to school and not doing what they’re supposed to do, then I’m literally scamming myself. And most importantly, I’m hurting my own son. So when people say stuff like that … I would literally be taking my son’s future and throwing it in the trash.”
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine called for the state’s Department of Education to investigate the school.
“Like many Ohioans, I am concerned by the recent reports and questions raised about Bishop Sycamore. While this weekend’s football game brought concerns about the health and safety of players, it also raised red flags about the school’s operations,” DeWine said in a statement Tuesday. “Schools like Bishop Sycamore have an obligation under Ohio law to meet certain minimum standards. Whether Bishop Sycamore meets these standards is not clear. I have asked the Ohio Department of Education to conduct an investigation into Bishop Sycamore to ensure compliance with Ohio law and to ensure the school is providing the educational opportunities Ohio students deserve.”