No surprise: Ohio Dept. of Education confirms Bishop Sycamore was a scam

·3 min read

Remember Bishop Sycamore? The high school football team no one had heard of that lost 58-0 to IMG Academy in a game that was somehow broadcast on ESPN? The game took place in Canton, Ohio, in August, and on Friday, the Ohio Department of Education released the report from its monthslong investigation of the school.

Turns out it's not a school at all. In the 41-page report, investigators determined that Bishop Sycamore "is not a school as it purports on paper to be." They couldn't confirm basic facts about the school, like its actual location or the names of any of its teachers — things you typically need to be considered a school.

The "school" did not meet the state's minimum requirements to be considered an educational institution, which led the investigators to one inevitable conclusion.

"The facts suggest that Bishop Sycamore High School was, and is, in fact, a scam."

Not quite a bombshell revelation

The announcement that Bishop Sycamore was a scam comes as a surprise to exactly no one, since people sensed something fishy was going on from the very start. During the game, ESPN announcers implied that the network was duped into broadcasting the game when Bishop Sycamore told them the school had multiple top recruits.

Here's everything the world discovered about Bishop Sycamore in the days after the game:

  • Their website was originally devoid of any content, and was later fleshed out with information about how to get recruited. Vitally, there was no info about an actual school on the site. Now a visit to bishopsycamore.org shows you essentially nothing, since the domain is for sale.

  • Bishop Sycamore was not listed on the ODoE's list of registered charter schools for the 2020-21 academic year, or the 2021-22 academic year.

  • Bishop Sycamore founder Andre Peterson said it was an online-only charter school that had just a P.O. Box, but had supposedly rented out space prior to the pandemic.

  • Several students who played for Bishop Sycamore were listed as students of completely different high schools on recruiting websites.

And that's just a tiny sampling of the weird, shady, gross and possibly illegal stuff people discovered about Bishop Sycamore after it rocketed to fame.

But the biggest piece of evidence we had that Bishop Sycamore was a scam came from the head coach. No, not the head coach who led the team to that 58-0 loss, because he was fired shortly after the game when it was discovered he had an active warrant in Ohio and had defaulted on a $100,000 loan that he'd used to run another football-forward "school" called Christians of Faith Academy.

Tyren Jackson, the head coach who was hired after that guy was fired, gave a quote in September that could have reduced the ODoE's 41-page report to just a single sheet.

“We are not a school," Jackson told a local NBC affiliate. "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.”

The ODoE was more thorough in their report, of course, and hopefully now the book on Bishop Sycamore can be closed forever.

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