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Details continue to emerge about Bishop Sycamore scandal

Details continue to emerge about Bishop Sycamore scandal


Bishop Sycamore managed to schedule games against some powerhouse opponents and weasel their way onto ESPN, which has led to a very reasonable question — how do they make money? The answer to that is slowly starting to take form.

Ben Feree, a former investigator for the Ohio High School Athletic Commission, told Andy Staples and Ari Wasserman of The Athletic that he has been “trying to bring these people to some sort of justice for years.” One of the people he is referring to is Bishop Sycamore coach Roy Johnson, who was supposedly fired on Monday. Johnson founded Christians of Faith Academy a few years ago before that fizzled out, at which point he and partner Andre Peterson started Bishop Sycamore.

According to Feree, COF Academy and Bishop Sycamore make money essentially through fraud and defaulting on loans. Feree said their “scam” is selling themselves as an elite football program in order to schedule big games. Johnson and his partners then get other legitimate programs to write them a check for travel expenses, but they pocket the money,

“They then just pocket that money. They don’t pay the bus companies. They don’t pay anybody. And there is a trail of lawsuits,” Feree said. “Roy Johnson, Andre Peterson and Jay Richardson and their subsidiary companies are currently on the hook for over a half million dollars as a result of the COF Academy, Bishop Sycamore cases, from evictions from apartment complexes, from hotels, bussing companies, banks. They’ve defaulted on loans. You name it, they’ve done it.”

Jay Richardson is a former Ohio State player who works at ABC6 in Columbus, Ohio. He is named in a 2018 civil suit filed by Great Merchants bank that claims Johnson, Richardson and others obtained a $100,000 loan by misrepresenting themselves as officers of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Richardson said this week that he has “zero involvement” with Bishop Sycamore or COF Academy. He believes he has been named in the lawsuit simply because he’s viewed as a good opportunity for someone to recoup funds they are owed.


That is only one of the lawsuits with which Johnson is associated. At some point after Bishop Sycamore’s 58-0 loss to IMG Academy on Sunday, the manager of a Fairfield Inn in Canton, Ohio, told police that Bishop Sycamore skipped out on its hotel bill. The manager said the team paid for a block of 25 rooms with bad checks that amounted to $3,596, according to the Canton Repository.

In 2018, Johnson was sued by the Baymont Inn in Delaware, Ohio, for allegedly failing to pay $110,685.40. Johnson and Richardson were also sued by a bank in 2018 for allegedly defaulting on a $92,020 loan that was used to purchase a Range Rover.

The more we learn about Bishop Sycamore, the more disturbing the story gets. Some of the team’s former players opened up this week about the shadiness of the program, including the shocking reason Bishop Sycamore could not travel to play IMG Academy. We can only imagine what will come out next.