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Former Bishop Sycamore Player Reveals Disturbing Details

A bizarre situation on ESPN during a game between Bishop Sycamore and IMG Academy.

ESPN.

The situation with Bishop Sycamore, the football program that apparently conned its way into a nationally televised game on ESPN against prestigious IMG Academy, grows stranger by the day. On Monday, one former player spoke out about his former program.

Aaron Boyd played at Bishop Sycamore under its previous name, COF Academy. The school was shut down in 2018, and effectively rebranded and relaunched itself. Boyd played in 2018-19, starting at the school as a 15 year old, when most of the players on the team were 19 or 20 years old, he said.

In an interview with Complex, Boyd revealed some deeply troubling allegations about the program and its staff, from blatantly false claims in recruiting, to numerous bounced checks to pay for housing in hotels, a complete lack of schooling, and even grocery store robberies. The team also didn't practice, and playing two games in three days, as the team did this weekend, was normal, he said.

“Everybody that knows me already knows this,” Boyd said. “It’s just the fact now it’s on a greater scale, I have to say something.”

Boyd said he was recruited by the then-COF Academy coaches after attending an Adidas All-American camp. They made the program look legitimate with brochures and plans presented to he and his mother, and even said that the school was set to appear on a Netflix show. Netflix has a popular documentary series called Last Chance U, which follows a junior college football or basketball program each year, though there is obviously no indication that Bishop Sycamore, which claims to be a high school program, would ever be involved. At least, not before this weekend's scandal.

"They told us we’re gonna be the IMG of the Midwest. They lied to me and my mama," Boyd said.

He says that there is no campus building, and that players stayed in a hotel in the town of Delaware, about 30 miles north of Columbus. They soon discovered that the housing wasn't being paid for, as the program's coach wrote "bounced checks for everything."

It is unclear if he's referring to Roy Johnson, the coach at the center of this year's scandal. He resigned today.

Boyd said that the education portion of the "school" was non-existent, and that he never took a class. One day, the team was taken to a library, but that was the closest thing Boyd could point to. He said that he wound up having to re-do his entire junior year after the fiasco.

"We didn’t go to school. We never went to school. I can’t lie, they tried once. They took us to a community library. One day. It was already October—the season was about to be over. It was like at this point, “Well, shit, I’m not going to school. Y’all haven’t put me through school this whole time.”

[...]

"Most people were already out of high school so it didn’t really affect them. I know me and this other kid ended up at rival high schools. That s**t ruined a lot of s**t. It’s sad to see. I wouldn’t say all they players are JUCO. I know some kids that are seniors in high school and now their senior year is gone. That’s how it was for me. My junior year was taken away from me. Everything I did my junior year didn’t matter because I was on a fraudulent team...

Bruh, I had to come back and redo my whole junior year and I had to do it in time so I could play football my senior year.

Boyd claims that after leaving the hotels, the team's 35 players moved into a set of houses for six weeks, where everyone had to sleep on the floor. Because they didn't have any food paid for, he claims that the team "had to go rob Meijers, Krogers, Walmart because that’s the only way we can eat." He says that the houses had no supervision, and players on the team "almost got stabbed" during that portion of his experience.

Luckily he was able to get out after one year, and it sounds like he salvaged something of his senior season. Others may not be so lucky.

[Complex]