The High School That Snuck Their Way Into Playing on ESPN

A photo of Bishop Sycamore’s then coach Roy Johnson Bishop Sycamore. (2021). [Photograph].×1040&offset=0x0

Nikita Erdmann Morris

Bishop Sycamore players. (2021). [Photograph].
This picture shows 3 players on the Bishop Sycamore roster

A fake High School team fooled ESPN into playing on national television. Bishop Sycamore is a High School that was said to be based in Columbus, Ohio and have multiple D1 prospects on their football team. However, on August 29th the “ranked” Bishop Sycamore got blown out by the famous IMG Academy 58-0 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

During the game, commentator Anish Shroff was having trouble identifying the players for Bishop Sycamore. He had said “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”. By the second half IMG was beating Bishop sycamore 30-0 which had Bishop Sycamore’s legitimacy in question. After the game an explosion of information started to spread about Bishop Sycamore and it left the sports world in shock. Bishop Sycamore’s roster consisted of ineligible players at the High School level. Most of the players were dropouts or JUCO players who didn’t make it. The team was short-staffed so the players had to play on offense and defense, with little time to rest between games. Also, their coach had a warrant out for his arrest. “The warrant relates to an unpaid fine in a case from 2020, in which Johnson was originally charged with assault. Johnson pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of criminal mischief. A fine of $1,396.20 was due Nov. 10 but was never paid,” stated by The Columbus Dispatch. It’s surprising that Roy Johnson had a warrant for his arrest and he continued to go on national television, however, he was fired after the IMG game.

The school itself was put into question. It turns out Bishop Sycamore is an online charter school based in Texas. When asked where the school was located, a random address from Ohio was used so the team could play in these games. Since the school was “based in Ohio” when searched up in the Ohio High School Athletic Association it was nowhere to be found. Bishop Sycamore is actually a part of the Texas Christian Athletic League. Jaylen Morris, a player on Bishop Sycamore, stated “We’re not a fake school. We’re an actual real school”. Morris was referring to the online charter school, which we now know.

A GoFundMe was found that Bishop Sycamore created saying “new football program getting established in Columbus” and plays “a national schedule which is ranked 4th in the nation.” as stated by CBS Sports. This only made $140 out of the $20,000 goal.

The lies kept getting worse and worse. It’s thought to be one of the biggest sports scandals in High School football. Bishop Sycamore tried pulling this off to get more looks for their program, but in the end they jeopardized their schools legitimacy and chance of playing for a long time.