Football team accused of lying to play in televised ESPN game

Even on air, ESPN commentators started to wonder out loud how Bishop Sycamore High School got into this mess.

In a very unexpected story, a football team from Ohio is suspected of lying its way into a televised game on ESPN. 

The match-up happened on Sunday when the elite IMG Academy took on a high school called Bishop Sycamore. As the game went on, the Florida-based IMG — which is known as an incubator of District 1 student-athletes and eventual NFL stars — decimated the lesser-known Ohio school, eventually winning 58-0. 

Coach Roy Johnson (center) and the team from Bishop Sycamore, a reported high school in Ohio, are shown during their game against IMG Academy on Sunday, which wrapped up this year’s Geico ESPN High School Football Kickoff. (ESPN)

Even on air, commentators started to wonder how Bishop Sycamore got into this mess, and, as SB Nation reported, the story has “only got weirder from there.” 

“Bishop Sycamore told us they had a number of Division 1 prospects on their roster. To be frank, a lot of that, we could not verify. They did not show up in our database; they did not show up in the databases of other recruiting services. So, okay, that’s what you’re telling us; fine, that’s how we take it in,” on-air commentator Anish Shroff said during the game.

“From what we’ve seen so far, this is not a fair fight,” he continued, “and there’s got to be a point where you worry about health and safety.” 

Shroff later tweeted, “Sorry. They had no business being in that game today. None. I feel bad for the kids. Player health and safety were at risk today. It was uncomfortable for anyone who watched.”

Bishop Sycamore High is said to be an online-only school based out of Columbus, Ohio. Further research into the school’s blog-like website revealed other questionable signs, according to the report, but the site has since been taken down completely. 

Further reporting notes that on Friday, the Bishop Sycamore “team” played in a football game against Sto-Rox High School in Pennsylvania, where they lost 19-7 — only to turn around and play the best high school football team in the country two days later. The Ohio High School Athletic Association does not recognize Bishop Sycamore as a legitimate high school.

Additionally, many of its squad members reportedly play both offensive and defensive positions. 

The game and resulting fallout have resulted in the same question being asked: “How did this happen?” 

All games for the seven-game Geico ESPN High School Football Kickoff are scheduled by Paragon Marketing, an ESPN partner.

In a statement, ESPN has placed the blame directly on that company’s shoulders, saying, “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. They have ensured us that they will take steps to prevent this kind of situation from happening moving forward.”

Since the incident and its subsequent fallout, reporters have discovered that the Bishop Sycamore team’s head coach, Roy Johnson, allegedly has an active arrest warrant for fraud charges, according to Complex

It is also being rumored that many of the “high school players” on the school’s team have already graduated from secondary school and might be dropouts from junior college teams. 

This trending story is far from finished. And it’s still getting weirder by the minute. 

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