Bishop Sycamore controversy rocks ESPN

The major sports network suffered a humiliation during a high school football broadcast


Tom Newby

ESPN’s broadcast of a lopsided high school football game created confusion and embarrassment for the network.

Alex Keeler, Reporter

Over the last 12 years, ESPN has broadcast numerous high school football games from all across the country. Many of the teams shown over years come from elite football programs and boast elite college prospects.

But last Sunday, ESPN found out what happens when one school isn’t what it says it is.

On Aug. 29, ESPN televised a game between national powerhouse program IMG Academy and lesser-known Bishop Sycamore. The game got ugly fast, and IMG Academy steamrolled Bishop Sycamore 58-0. 

After a short time, many sports media figures — including those within ESPN — began to question how this incredibly-uneven matchup came to be. 

A representative from Bishop Sycamore had reportedly told ESPN that their program had a number a high-profile college recruits, but it was ESPN announcer Anish Shroff who was among the first to question the school’s claims during the broadcast on Sunday. 

Bishop Sycamore told us they had a number of Division 1 prospects on their roster, and to be frank, a lot of that, we could not verify,” Shroff said. 

Shroff’s comments prompted many to begin investigating the claims made by this essentially-unknown school’s representatives. When the school’s official site was still active, the “Staff” and “About Us” sections were completely blank, and it also failed to mention anything about classes or even how to enroll. Meanwhile, the school’s claims to have top recruits were also found not to be true considering no official roster existed.

The Ohio Department of Education listed Bishop Sycamore as a “non-chartered, non-tax supported school,” but the school has no official address because all classes are online-only. 

As of now, the site is currently under “maintenance,” and the program appears to be on its way to being totally dismantled. Head coach Roy Johnson was fired on Tuesday, two days after the Sunday night matchup.

ESPN released a statement on Monday regarding the events that took place over the weekend, citing a miscommunication with Paragon Marketing Group, a firm that has worked with the network over the years. 

“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 type of situation from happening moving forward.”