Former ESPN president John Skipper said Wednesday he didn’t exactly fault his former company for being duped into allowing Bishop Sycamore to be featured on its network.
Skipper, now the head of Meadowlark Media, told his flagship podcast “Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” the certain high school showcase games could fall down the hierarchy at the company.
“Actually, I think this happens just because of the volume of games they put on at ESPN,” Skipper said. “There’s a hierarchy of what people pay attention to. This game falls pretty far down in the hierarchy, falls far enough down that they let someone else do the game and produce the game for them, and somebody didn’t pay attention.”
He compared the situation to the CEO of Walmart knowing what’s happening at a store in Arkansas.
“This is like expecting the Walmart CEO to know that some dog has s—t in aisle 13 of the Fayetteville, Ark., store. You can’t know everything,” Skipper said.
ESPN used the sports marketing firm Paragon Marketing Group to schedule the game between Bishop Sycamore and IMG Academy for the GEICO ESPN High School Football Kickoff.
“We regret that this happened and have discussed it with Paragon, which secured the matchup and handles the majority of our high school event scheduling,” ESPN said in a statement. “They have assured us that they will take steps to prevent this kind of situation from happening moving forward.”
Rashid Ghazi, the president of Paragon, told Awful Announcing he wishes he would’ve done more research into Bishop Sycamore before the game and said the organization was unaware the team had also played on Friday night.
According to Awful Announcing, ESPN said it voiced its concerns about Bishop Sycamore when it couldn’t find any information about the school. Bishop Sycamore reportedly bailed on a conference call and provided a fact sheet before Sunday’s game claiming some of its players have been recruited by Division I schools – but none of them had been.
Since then, several schools have dropped out of games with Bishop Sycamore, the head football coach has been fired and the Ohio governor has called for a Department of Education investigation.