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People Are Wondering If An Ohio School Even Exists, After A Football Blowout On ESPN

On Sunday, Bishop Sycamore lost to the second-ranked team in the country, IMG Academy of Florida, 58-0.
Michael Holahan
/
USA Today Network via Reuters Co.
On Sunday, Bishop Sycamore lost to the second-ranked team in the country, IMG Academy of Florida, 58-0.

Days after a blowout loss on national television, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has launched an investigation into the high school football program at Bishop Sycamore High School and the school's legitimacy.

Bishop Sycamore failed to score a single point in the game, which was broadcast on ESPN. As the team's opponent widened its lead, viewers and even the ESPN announcers started expressing concerns about the matchup. Bishop Sycamore eventually lost 58-0.

In a statement released by the governor's office, DeWine said the state's Department of Education would investigate further into Bishop Sycamore regarding recent allegations against the charter school.

"Like many Ohioans, I am concerned by the recent reports and questions raised about Bishop Sycamore. While this weekend's football game brought concerns about the health and safety of players, it also raised red flags about the school's operations," DeWine said.

DeWine said schools like Bishop Sycamore "have an obligation under Ohio law to meet certain minimum standards," but whether Bishop Sycamore meets those standards is not entirely clear.

"I have asked the Ohio Department of Education to conduct an investigation into Bishop Sycamore to ensure compliance with Ohio law and to ensure the school is providing the educational opportunities Ohio students deserve," DeWine said.

Bishop Sycamore High School, the supposed school in Columbus, Ohio, is not recognized by the Ohio High School Athletic Association, and the state's Department of Education lists no charter school with its name, according to local TV station WCMH.

The school's official website, as of Wednesday, has been taken down for "maintenance."

In an official filing to the Ohio Department of Education, Bishop Sycamore school officials said the school is "one of the best academic institutions in the country," according to The Columbus Dispatch.

However, concerns were raised after the school played against national football powerhouse IMG Academy in a prep football game this past Sunday on ESPN.

Both ESPN and Paragon, the marketing group that helps schedule and deliver high school matchups to the sports network, say they were unaware that the school played on TV and that it "didn't have the number of highly recruited prospects" it said it had prior to the game's scheduling.

"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 a news statement Tuesday. "They have ensured us that they will take steps to prevent this kind of situation from happening moving forward."

As of Wednesday, MaxPreps, a website covering high school sports, had Bishop Sycamore scheduled to play several high school prep powerhouses this year, including Saint Frances Academy in Baltimore, St. Thomas More School in Connecticut and St. Edward High School in Lakewood, Ohio.

According to ESPN, Bishop Sycamore played six games last season, with a season record of 0-6.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jonathan Franklin
Jonathan Franklin is a digital reporter on the News desk covering general assignment and breaking national news.

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