High School Football Coach Facing Further Possible Fraud Charges After Tricking ESPN

Bishop Sycamore getting destroyed 58-0 by IMG on Sunday on ESPN is just the tip of the iceberg

A football sitting on a field. during a high school football game
A football sitting on a field. during a high school football game.
Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty

After getting destroyed 58-0 by IMG Academy of Florida on a nationally televised game on ESPN that should never have taken place because of the difference in ability between the two teams, Bishop Sycamore is continuing to take hits.

The school, which claims to be based in Columbus but may be manipulating that truth the same way it apparently lied about the quality of its players to get onto ESPN, let go of head coach Roy Johnson, Bishop Sycamore school director Andre Peterson told USA Today Sports.

Johnson, who coached Bishop Sycamore in a Friday night game two days before the school played IMG Academy in a clear indication that the health of his players was not a priority, is facing a pending fraud charge that may have played a part in the school moving on from him. Incredibly, Peterson said Johnson allowing the team to play two games in three days (and making them wear the same black jerseys as their opponents on Friday because they forgot to pack their white set) was not a factor in the two sides parting ways.

“There were a lot of things played a part in it,” Peterson told USA Today Sports. “Roy has honestly been like a little brother to me in the sense that when really we were launching Bishop Sycamore, there were some things that we wanted to do better and could have done better. I value him as a person, but I just thought right now he needed to step down, he needed to go. We just decided to mutually part ways.”

ESPN and Paragon, the company that works to schedule and deliver high school matchups to the network, both said they were unaware Bishop Sycamore played a game on Friday night and didn’t know the school misrepresented the quality of the players it claimed to have on its roster when the game was scheduled.

“We regret that this happened and have discussed it with Paragon, which secured the matchup and handles the majority of our high school event scheduling,” ESPN said in a statement. “They have ensured us that they will take steps to prevent this kind of situation from happening moving forward.”

Peterson, who currently coaches the football team’s offensive and defensive lines, pushed back on the notion that the school scammed its way into playing on ESPN, stating that Bishop Sycamore’s intention was to give the team’s players a better chance of playing college football. But a number of internet outlets — principally Defector — have revealed some very fishy information about the school in recent days, including the fact that it appears to be an online-only, vaguely accredited “charter school” that exists for the sole purpose of helping 19- and 20-year-old post-graduate athletes turn the heads of college coaches.

“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,” Peterson told USA Today Sports. “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. 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.”

It may not be a scam, but whatever is going on with Peterson and Bishop Sycamore is shady and possibly unsafe. Until the situation is cleared up, the school’s players certainly don’t belong on ESPN and probably shouldn’t be on the football field either.

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