Ohio officials investigate if high school football team that played on ESPN is from real school


Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Tuesday ordered state investigators to probe a mysterious high school football team that played on national TV over the weekend, despite having virtually no track record as a school.

Florida powerhouse IMG Academy beat Bishop Sycamore, 58-0, in Canton, Ohio, in a game that was broadcast by ESPN on Sunday and raised immediate concerns about the losing school's most basic credentials.

The game was part of the sports network's GEICO ESPN High School Football Kickoff series, and ESPN's own announcers questioned on air why this matchup was even made.

Ohio Education Department records showed Bishop Sycamore as a private school in Columbus with an address at 3599 Chiller Lane.

That's the location of Resolute Athletic Complex, an indoor sports training facility. The center is not used as a school, according to a man who picked up the phone Tuesday evening.

Education Department records cite Andre Peterson as Bishop Sycamore's point of contact, and he did not answer his listed phone number and no message could be left for him.

It appears Bishop Sycamore also played Friday, meaning the team had multiple contests in 72 hours — an act virtually unheard of at any level of football.

“Like many Ohioans, I am concerned by the recent reports and questions raised about Bishop Sycamore," DeWine said in a statement. "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."

The governor continued: "Schools like Bishop Sycamore have an obligation under Ohio law to meet certain minimum standards. Whether Bishop Sycamore meets these standards is not 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."

The game was organized by a third party, Paragon Marketing Group, based in Skokie, Illinois. Company President Rashid Ghazi could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday evening.