COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The new head coach of the Bishop Sycamore football team sat down exclusively with NBC4 this Labor Day weekend.
The team made national headlines just more than a week ago after a lopsided loss on national television to an elite high school program.
The appearance raised questions about whether Bishop Sycamore was a legitimate school based here in Columbus.
Coach Tyren Jackson said he wants to set the record straight.
NBC4 Investigates spent the better part of the last week digging through records and following a trail of addresses that reveal no actual school building or curriculum associated with Bishop Sycamore, even though it was identified by the state of Ohio as a “non-charter, non-tax supported school” during the previous school year.
This left a lot of questions, but for Jackson, the answer is simple.
“We do not offer curriculum,” he said. “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.”
When pressed on that mistake, Jackson said he didn’t know much about the program’s filing with the Ohio Department of Education, which was submitted before Jackson said he was hired seven months ago.
When told there was a bell schedule and building address associated with the school, Jackson responded, “Right, and I don’t know anything about that. I won’t speak on stuff I don’t know about. Like I said, if it was something that happened like that, then that’s terrible. That’s not how you do business.”
Jackson said Bishop Sycamore will not file paperwork to be considered a school for the current academic school year.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine last week called for a state investigation into Bishop Sycamore.
Jackson said he intends to cooperate with the state’s investigation.
“I don’t have any problem cooperating, letting them know whatever they want to know and things of that nature,” he said. “That stuff should never had happened the way it happened. I’m willing to take responsibility for it and say that it was a mistake. It’s something that shouldn’t have been that way, and that’s something that I have to address stepping into this role.”
Jackson said the team is still practicing as what he calls a “post-grad football academy.”
Teams scheduled to play Bishop Sycamore this fall have canceled their scheduled games after last week’s televised loss to top-ranked IMG Academy out of Florida.
“A lot of it, you can say, was self-inflicted, and I’m willing to say that,” Jackson said. “But at the same time, that’s probably from a head-down type of thing. Don’t attack these kids. Don’t take that part from them, now that they don’t have a season, possibly. Once the smoke clears, we’re national news. Whoever does schedule us next will be national news.”
Jackson replaced previous head coach Roy Johnson last week.
Messages for comment from Johnson and Bishop Sycamore Athletic Director Andre Peterson have not been returned.