After the fiasco surrounding the actual existence of Bishop Sycamore High School in Ohio and ESPN’s failure to verify the legitimacy of its football program, coach Roy Johnson was fired by the school’s founder Andre Peterson. Now, two former players have come out to speak against Bishop Sycamore and Johnson to Complex Magazine under the condition of anonymity.
“Originally, I was going into my senior year,” said the interviewee referred to as Player 1. “Roy Johnson has reached out to me. I wanted some more exposure… It was you come here and play ball. If you have a chance to increase your GPA, we provide good schooling, which was not the case. We didn’t start school until months after enrolling in August. There was a brochure; they had a good format and layout. Told us where to take classes. You know what school it was?”
It turns out the school was Franklin University, a college for adult learners (which typically means 25 years or older) with a predominantly online population. “Yup, and there’s things I wish I can speak about,” continued Player 1, “but that would probably be dealing with the law.”
Player 2 corroborated the tale (“Roy’s a really good talker—I’ll give Roy that… [He] made me believe, but I should’ve done more research.”), and then the pair proceeded to tell a story of Johnson asking his team to beat up a homeless man.
“[T]here was a homeless dude that tried to break into Roy’s car,” revealed Player 1. “That morning, we were supposed to practice, and everyone came out and… There’s videos of this, but I don’t want to release that because many players can get in trouble with the law—but they ended up jumping the homeless man and beating him.” As a result, practice ended up being cancelled for that day, the players said.
The two talk about other players on the team with much older children of their own, being fed quite irregularly (“[T]hey’ll feed us tuna salad Sunday, then try to put it on a sandwich and give it to us on Wednesday.”), and one scenario of a guy who walked fresh out of the penitentiary and onto the squad (“We took a dude on the team that was straight out of jail and put him on the team when he graduated in 2019. Straight out of the cell.”)
For his part, though, Peterson is adamant that Bishop Sycamore is a real school with a real football program. “If it’s a scam,” he told USA Today, “and the kids are not going to school and not doing what they’re supposed to do, then I’m literally scamming myself. And most importantly, I’m hurting my own son. So when people say stuff like that … I would literally be taking my son’s future and throwing it in the trash.”
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