The Bishop Sycamore saga that played out on national television is still reverberating across the sports world with growing questions about how the team could have played on ESPN in the first place.
Bishop Sycamore was clearly outmatched Saturday when it lost to IMG Academy – one of the best high school football teams in the nation – 58-0. IMG Academy features several top-300 prospects, including players being recruited by Ohio State.
As it turns out, Bishop Sycamore was somehow able to dupe a marketing agency into putting itself in the game against IMG Academy despite their website looking like it was created days before they played against IMG Academy. The website does not have a filled out “About Us” page nor does it have any information about their upcoming schedule or staff. Some of their five blog posts are from 2020.
Furthermore, Bishop Sycamore may not even be a school. The Columbus Dispatch reported Bishop Sycamore was not listed as a charter school for the 2021-22 school year but listed Bishop Sycamore last year as a “non-chartered, non-tax supported school.” Coach Roy Johnson told the newspaper that enrollment for the school begins Sept. 1 and the schooling will be done online via Excel.
Paragon Marketing Group did the scheduling for what was GEICO ESPN High School Football Kickoff, and not ESPN, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
“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.”
Rashid Ghazi, the president of Paragon, told Awful Announcing he wishes he would’ve done more research into Bishop Sycamore before the game occurred and said the organization was unaware the team had played on Friday night.
According to Awful Announcing, ESPN said they voiced their concerns about Bishop Sycamore when they couldn’t find any information about the school. Bishop Sycamore reportedly bailed on a conference call and provided a fact sheet before Sunday’s game claiming some of their players have been recruited by Division I schools.
ESPN commentators Anish Shroff and Tom Luginbill voiced their concerns about Bishop Sycamore on the air while the game was going on and continued on Twitter.
Bishop Sycamore is scheduled to play again on Sept. 3, according to Max Preps. The school has a full slate of games ahead, including big-time schools Duncanville, DeMatha and Life Christian Academy.