Bishop Sycamore 'Not a School as It Purports to Be,' Ohio Dept. of Education Says

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVDecember 17, 2021

JAN 04 2015: A lone football sits by the goal line prior to the AFC Wild-Card football game between the Cincinnati Bengals vs Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by TMB/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
TMB/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

An investigation by the Ohio Department of Education determined that "Bishop Sycamore [High School] is not a school as it purports on paper to be," per Tom Schad of USA Today.

Bishop Sycamore gained national headlines in August when the football team suffered a 58-0 blowout loss to IMG Academy on ESPN. The network later said it was a mistake to put the team on television after the program lied about its quality, allegedly saying it had multiple Division I prospects. 

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine took notice, asking the department of education to investigate whether the school meets minimum standards to operate. 

The investigation not only determined it is not a school, but also recommended "potential legal action" against Bishop Sycamore through the Attorney General's office, per Schad.

Bishop Sycamore fired head coach Roy Johnson after the loss to IMG. Beyond the results on the field, the squad played two games in three days and the coach reportedly did a poor job of tracking player injuries. The ESPN appearance also raised questions about the school, its administrators and its curriculum.

After the increased scrutiny, school founder and director Andre Peterson defended it, telling WKYC the school had 60 students and was "mostly online."

However, after Tyren Jackson took over as head coach, he clarified the program's standing.

"We do not offer curriculum," he told Jamie Ostroff of NBC4. "We are not a school. That’s not what Bishop Sycamore is, and I think that’s what the biggest misconception about us was, and that was our fault. Because that was a mistake on paperwork."

Per WKYC's Ben Axelrod, the state's investigation found "no evidence that Bishop Sycamore High School actually enrolled students or had a physical location." 

In September, production company SMAC Entertainment acquired the exclusive rights to Johnson's story and will produce a documentary on the Bishop Sycamore saga.