A Former Bishop Sycamore Football Player Exposes the Dark Secrets of the Program

We talked to a former Bishop Sycamore high school football player about the team that went viral and what it was really like to be inside the chaotic program.

Bishop Sycamore Interview

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Bishop Sycamore Interview

The story of Bishop Sycamore might be the craziest sports anecdote of 2021. An alleged “fake” high school from Columbus, Ohio, set the internet ablaze after the school fooled ESPN into airing one of its games against powerhouse IMG Academy by telling it it had several Division I athletes on its roster. ESPN announcers admitted on the broadcast that they couldn’t confirm that information, which seemed to be the first of many alleged lies told by Bishop Sycamore. Several issues like age concerns, playing two games in a span of three days, and even the team’s coach allegedly having an arrest record rose to the surface. 

Not to mention, the school was known as COF Academy before getting shut down in 2018. Aaron Boyd, who claims to be the first-ever player recruited by Bishop Sycamore, has been exposing the dark secrets of Bishop Sycamore ever since he left. 

“Everybody that knows me already knows this,” Boyd told Complex. “It’s just the fact now it’s on a greater scale, I have to say something.”

Indeed, Boyd had plenty to say. From the recruiting lies to the lack of education to the inhumane living conditions, he is exposing it all. We talked to the former Bishop Sycamore player about the other side of the program.

(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)

So what years did you play there?

I played there my junior year of high school. I played there 2018-19 season. I was 15 going on 16. 

Bishop Sycamore

How’d you find out about them? 

Before they were Bishop Sycamore, they were COF Academy. They had these coaches come from COF. I was at an Adidas All-American camp and they came and recruited me. 

But why did you go there? What appealed to you about that school? 

At first, they had, like, brochures and a plan. N***a, they sent me books with, like, shit on how the school was supposed to look—blueprints and everything. They told us we was gonna be on Netflix; they recruited us telling us we were gonna be on a show. They told us we’re gonna be the IMG of the Midwest. They lied to me and my mama.  

Bishop Sycamore

Was this a relocation for you? 

Yeah. I had to move out of my city. 

So when you got there, what was the campus like? Did they even have a building at the time? 

There was no building. Aight, listen to this. This is the crazy shit. This what you wanna hear. I first moved out there, we were staying in a hotel in Delaware [Ohio]. We were staying there for, like, five months. 

Five months?

Five months. Didn’t have no housing. All the players came to find out we never paid the hotel. [The school was] writing them bounced checks. The head coach of Bishop Sycamore wasn’t the head coach. He was, like, an athletic director. He was the n***a that was behind all of it. He was writing bounced checks for everything. For everything. We never paid for anything. 

Bishop Sycamore

I saw that there allegedly was an arrest warrant for fraud charges, so that’s accurate to you? 

Yeah, that’s accurate. I didn’t know what the warrant was for, but if it’s for writing bounced checks, that’s accurate. This man scammed a whole church. We had funding from a church—that’s how we were doing everything from the beginning. 

I heard that people have been writing stories, but why did it take so long to blow up? Why didn’t you say something? 

Everybody that knows me already knows this. It’s just the fact now it’s on a greater scale, I have to say something. I got friends to this day that’s way older than me. Mind you, when I was there, I was 15—everybody else there was 19 and 20. I was the first person to ever get recruited for this school. 

What did y’all do for education? 

We didn’t go to school. We never went to school. I can’t lie—they tried once. They took us to a community library. One day. It was already October—the season was about to be over. It was like at this point, “Well, shit, I’m not going to school. Y’all haven’t put me through school this whole time.”

How accurate was the report that they’re bringing JUCO kids back to high school? That’s accurate?

Bruh, I don’t know about JUCO kids, but I tell you I was 15 and everybody else was 19 and 20. I got videos on my phone right now. Whatever you want to see, I got videos of. People sleeping on the floor. N***a, we didn’t have practice. We just went to games. You see how it said they played two games in three days—we really did that. We ain’t practice. We just went to games. 

Was there any times y’all built team camaraderie before going on the field?

We all lived in a hotel together for five months. We all moved in in July, before the school started. From July to about mid-August, everybody thought it was legit because shit, we all just thought we were staying in a hotel because there was no school. We were going to practice at some nice-ass practice facility. We had 10 coaches—one coach for every position. From mid-August to mid-September, we had two coaches left and a team mom because everybody found out they wasn’t getting paid. There was one coach who stuck it out to the end because he had to. If he left, we would’ve had nobody. 

So why didn’t you just bounce? 

I left after my junior year. I went back to high school. 

Is that what happened for most people? 

Most people were already out of high school, so it didn’t really affect them. I know me and this other kid ended up at rival high schools. That shit ruined a lot of shit. It’s sad to see. I wouldn’t say all they players are JUCO. I know some kids that are seniors in high school and now their senior year is gone. That’s how it was for me. My junior year was taken away from me. Everything I did my junior year didn’t matter because I was on a fraudulent team. 

Did you have to redo your classes when you got back to school?

Bruh, I had to come back and redo my whole junior year, and I had to do it in time so I could play football my senior year. 

How’d your mom react? 

I moved so far. My mom couldn’t watch over me. I was telling her I was going to school. I was telling her what they were telling me to tell her: “We gon’ start school next week, we gon’ start school next week.” After October, I lost all hope. That shit was sad. 

What’s the craziest thing that happened while you were there? 

There’s shit I could say, but I don’t really want to. N***a, for the last month and a half, we had about 35 players. We moved into these new houses. For that month and a half, we was all sleeping on the floor. We had to go rob Meijers, Krogers, Walmart because that’s the only way we can eat. 

That’s crazy

It’s crazy, but I can think of shit that’s crazier than that. Sleeping on the floor and doing all that shit, that don’t get to me. N***as almost got stabbed in there. We had players from every borough of New York. Then we had players from inner-city Columbus. That’s where I’m from. Everything didn’t mix, especially with no supervision. 

You put all those personalities together and it could boil up. 

Yeah, and plus, at the end of the day, these n***as not high schoolers. They’re grown men, and they from New York. [Laughs.] 

It’s crazy that this can happen in 2021. 

It’s been happening for years—since 2018. 

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