Details about a high school football game between Florida’s IMG Academy and Ohio’s Bishop Sycamore just keep getting weirder. The game aired on ESPN on Sunday (Aug. 29) and saw the alleged high school team Bishop Sycamore suffer an astronomical loss to IMG, ending 58 – 0.
Though the Florida boarding school’s football team is touted as one of the best in the country, viewers were still surprised to see their opponents, Bishop Sycamore, lose quite that badly. However, it turns out that the game should have never been scheduled and that Bishop Sycamore might not even be a real high school team.
According to FootballScoop, Bishop Sycamore appears to be an online-only charter school with a blog-like website. The team is not recognized by the Ohio High School Athletic Association, which said the school’s “physical location, practice facilities and roster eligibility could not be verified.” The team reportedly went 0-6 last season, prompting further questions about why they were matched up against IMG.
Furthermore, Complex reports that many of the players have already graduated high school and some of them were previously junior college students. Bishop Sycamore’s head coach, Roy Johnson, also allegedly has an active arrest warrant for fraud-related charges.
As ESPN commentators watched Sunday’s game unfold, they admitted they didn’t do their due diligence in verifying the team.
“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.”
According to a statement from ESPN, the game was scheduled by Paragon Marketing Group, which has also admitted to not thoroughly vetting 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. “They have ensured us that they will take steps to prevent this kind of situation from happening moving forward.”
Viewers cracked jokes about the situation on Twitter and compared Bishop Sycamore to the South Harmon Institute of Technology, the fictitious college that was made up in the movie Accepted. See some reactions online to the bizarre scandal on Twitter below.