High School Football Team May Have Lied to ESPN to Play on National TV (UPDATE)

On Sunday, ESPN aired a high school football game between Florida’s IMG Academy and Ohio’s Bishop Sycamore, and that's when things got weird.


Image via Getty/John Jones/Icon Sportswire


UPDATED 8/29, 4:20 p.m. ET: New details about Bishop Sycamore emerged Monday. It turns out, the team also played a game on Friday, which made Sunday’s game its second in just three days.

According to Awful Announcing, the game was scheduled by Paragon Marketing Group, whose president, Rashid Ghazi, denied having knowledge of Bishop Sycamore’s Friday game. Ghazi also said the company did not do due diligence in researching the team.

“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 an official statement. “They have ensured us that they will take steps to prevent this kind of situation from happening moving forward.”

The outlet also confirmed that the Ohio High School Athletic Association doesn’t recognize Bishop Sycamore as a legitimate high school, and their “physical location, practice facilities, and roster eligibility could not be verified.”

The team’s head coach, Roy Johnson, also allegedly has an active arrest warrant thanks to fraud charges, while many of their players are said to have already graduated high school, which essentially means a bunch of adults got rolled by some high school kids.

Sorry. They had no business being in that game today. None. I feel bad for the kids. Player health and safety was at risk today. It was uncomfortable for anyone who watched. https://t.co/Eq39vdywLm

— Anish Shroff (@AnishESPN) August 29, 2021

To read an interview with a former Bishop Sycamore football player, go here. Click here for a breakdown on what’s happened so far.

See original story below.

It’s been a rough week for ESPN. 

After announcing that one of its biggest stars, Rachel Nichols, would be removed from all NBA coverage after the fallout from the Maria Taylor tape, the network appears to have been duped by a high school football team.

On Sunday, ESPN aired a high school football game between Florida’s IMG Academy and Ohio’s Bishop Sycamore. Anyone who watched the game could see as plain as day that IMG Academy is good, and Bishop Sycamore is bad. Like, really bad.

While we’ve seen mismatched opponents square off in nationally televised games before, this was something different entirely. IMG are defending national champs and consistently one of the best teams in the country. Apparently ESPN was under the impression that Bishop’s program was also stacked with top recruits. 

That clearly wasn’t the case. Bishop was so clearly outmatched, and ended up getting torched 58-0. But what makes this story even more insane is the way the game’s announcers react in real time when they realize that they’ve been had. In fact, they genuinely seem concerned for the safety of the Bishop players, who as they put it, were not engaged in a “fair fight.” 

They also admitted live on the air that they had been misled by Bishop, and didn’t due do diligence to verify that what they had been told about the calibre of players was true. “Bishop Sycamore told us they had a number of Division I prospects on their roster,” broadcaster Anif Shroff said. “To be frank, a lot of that we could not verify.” He then apologized and elaborated on Twitter:

To make matters worse, Bishop Sycamore might not even be a real high school. As FootballScoop points out, it appears to be an online-only charter school with a website that resembles a blog. The team went 0-6 last season, and was routinely blown out. With all this information readily available online, it’s unclear why or how ESPN agreed to air the game in the first place. 

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