In the latest twist in the strange saga of Bishop Sycamore, the football team's new head coach said Monday that the self-proclaimed high school is not, in fact, an actual school.
Tyren Jackson, who identifies himself on social media as the new head coach at Bishop Sycamore, told WCMH-TV in Columbus that he believed a "mistake on paperwork" had resulted in a "misconception" that Bishop Sycamore High School is a school.
He described it instead as a "post-grad football academy."
"We do not offer curriculum," Jackson told the TV station. "We are not a school. That’s not what Bishop Sycamore is, and I think that’s what the biggest misconception about us was, and that was our fault. Because that was a mistake on paperwork."
As of last year, Bishop Sycamore High School was registered as a non-chartered, non-tax supported school in Ohio.
In a report filed with the state's department of education, Bishop Sycamore described itself as "a [sic] innovative academically accredited school" and "one of the best academic institutions in the country." The report also features a bell schedule, academic misconduct policy, school year calendar and transcript template.
Bishop Sycamore has until Sept. 30 to file its annual report with the state for the 2021-22 school year. Jackson, who appears to have replaced the recently-fired Roy Johnson as the team's head coach, told WCMH-TV that it does not intend to do so.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has asked the department of education to investigate Bishop Sycamore and ensure it is meeting minimum academic standards and following the law.
Jackson's comments come less than a week after Bishop Sycamore's founder and director, Andre Peterson, vigorously defended the school's credentials to USA TODAY Sports and other media outlets.
Peterson told USA TODAY Sports last Tuesday that Bishop Sycamore is "not a scam" and has spoken repeatedly about a need to simply update the school's web site, which was taken down last week. He said the school had "between 75 and 80 students" and that tuition costs $2,000.
"If it’s a scam 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," Peterson said last week. "So when people say stuff like that … I would literally be taking my son’s future and throwing it in the trash."
"We have to make sure that website also includes the academic part of it. There’s things that you learn. There’s growing pains that you have. We realized that’s an issue."
Peterson had not responded to repeated messages from USA TODAY Sports since early last week. He did not immediately reply to an email Monday night.
Bishop Sycamore has been under scrutiny after it played IMG Academy in a nationally-televised game on ESPN, losing 58-0. During the broadcast, ESPN's commentators openly wondered if the network had been deceived by Bishop Sycamore, which had claimed it had multiple Division I prospects on its roster.