A purportedly illegitimate high school football team reportedly lied about its football team in order to play on national television via ESPN.
What are the details?
On Sunday, Complex reported that it appeared ESPN was duped by a fake high school football team with a coach who reportedly has an active arrest warrant for fraud.
That day, the sports network aired a high school football game between Florida's IMG Academy, defending national champions, and Ohio's largely unknown Bishop Sycamore.
Of the face-off, Complex's Daniel Barna wrote, "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," Barna added, pointing out that the Florida team took home an easy 58-0 win.
The game's announcers apparently realized in real time that they'd been had, Barna noted, and ended up expressing concerns for the players' safety.
"They also admitted live on the air that they had been misled by Bishop, and didn't do due diligence to verity that what they had been told about the calibre of the players was true," Barna added.
According to the Awful Announcing, ESPN broadcaster Anif Shroff during the game raised eyebrows for saying, "Bishop Sycamore told us they had a number of Division I prospects on their roster. To be frank, a lot of that we could not verify. They did not show up in our database, they did not show up in the databases of other recruiting services. So, OK, that's what you're telling us, fine, that's how we take it in. From what we've seen so far, this is not a fair fight, and there's got to be a point where you're worried about health and safety."
Shroff later took to Twitter where he added, "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."
A fake team with a coach wanted on suspicion of fraud?
Coach Roy Johnson, who led the Bishop team to their devastating defeat, reportedly has an active arrest warrant out for fraud.
Football Scoop notes that Bishop Sycamore may not even be a legitimate high school, and appears to be an online-only charter school with a "football team" who reportedly went 0-6 last season.
According to the outlet, many of the team's players are said to have already graduated from high school.
"With all this information readily available online, it's unclear why or how ESPN agreed to air the game in the first place," Barna concluded.
On Monday, new details about the school emerged noting 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 also played a game on Friday — making Sunday's game its second game in two 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," Barna added. "Ghazi also said the company did not do due diligence in researching the team."
A spokesperson for ESPN announced that they discussed the snafu with Paragon Marketing Group, which it said "secured the matchup and handles the majority of our high school event scheduling."
“They have ensured us that they will take steps to prevent this kind of situation from happening moving forward," the spokesperson added.
Social media user Dawson Boyd summed up the bewildering event in a succinct and now-viral tweet.
He wrote, "From this story that keeps getting wilder: There has never been a Bishop Sycamore[.] They played two games in three days[.] Their head coach currently has an ACTIVE arrest warrant[.] Most of the players are JUCO dropouts who are nowhere near HS age[.] How was ESPN scammed this badly??"