The little-known Bishop Sycamore high school came out of nowhere when it played a football game against IMG Academy televised on ESPN in early September, losing 58-0. Then the trouble truly began. The spotlight quickly yielded several disconcerting details. The school claimed to feature multiple Division 1 prospects and a strong academic record, which turned out to be false.
An investigation found that the school’s address was an athletic complex and university library in Columbus, Ohio. Its leader claimed it was “not a scam,” but there was no curriculum — it was a post-grad football academy. In light of the blowout and possible financial dodges, the coach was fired.
The blowout and academic issue quickly prompted all opponents on the schedule to cancel, leaving a blank schedule. The opponents cited the lack of accreditation and liability issues. It seems unlikely that the team will play another game this season and may never do so again.
Ohio launches a probe
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine instructed the state’s department of education to investigate Bishop Sycamore and ensure it meets all legal guidelines. It is a non-chartered institution and does not receive any funding from the state, but there are still certain basic guidelines that institutions must follow.
Not for the first time
In retrospect, Bishop Sycamore should have known better. The school arose out of the demise of the Christians of Faith (COF) Academy, which closed less than three years ago. BS’s fired football coach was a leader at COF. The former institution ran afoul of authorities when it became clear that it was not teaching students at its listed address. It then was quickly taken off the state’s list of valid non-chartered institutions. BS will likely also get taken off this list and could face other allegations.
Following the money
One area that could be trouble is that BS officials bounced nearly $3,600 in checks to a hotel for 25 rooms around the time it played its game. The former coach and his business partners were the targets of lawsuits after not paying or not repaying more than $300,000 related to COF. There were also allegations that they wrongly claimed to be representatives of a church when the coach and his partners took out a $100,000 loan. There are also $13,000 in unpaid bills for bus rentals. The coach also has an outstanding warrant for his arrest stemming from criminal mischief charges.
More drama to come
In light of all the drama surrounding the former coach and his partners, it is no surprise that at least two film production companies (one headed by Kevin Hart and another led by Michael Strahan) are planning to do documentaries.
Sadly, not much is said so far about the young players and their families dragged into this drama. While it will make for a great story, one cannot help but feel sympathy for the many innocent people involved.