The Bishop Sycamore “post-grad football academy” saga that came to light last year is set to be the subject of an upcoming HBO documentary, and that documentary is set to be a partnership between Michael Strahan and Constance Schwartz-Morini’s SMAC Entertainment, Adam McKay’s Hyperobject Industries, Boat Rocker’s Matador Content, and The Athletic. A notable element of what’s come out about that documentary to date is that Bishop Sycamore coach Roy Johnson (a key figure in not just coaching the team, but also setting up the school) said he was set to be paid for his part in it. That’s now led to some interesting court filings involving Johnson and SMAC Entertainment.
In December, Johnson (seen at top on the sidelines during the ESPN game last August that brought this to wide attention) told New York Times reporters he couldn’t discuss Bishop Sycamore with them because he’d sold rights to the story to Strahan’s group. But he told them “Everything will come out in the documentary.” Awful Announcing sources indicate the documentary is likely to air in late 2022 or early 2023. However, there’s some question on if Johnson will actually wind up getting money from this, as court filings in civil court in Franklin County, OH (where Bishop Sycamore was located) have included filings from First Merchants Bank petitioning for the court to enjoin SMAC from paying Johnson anything until Johnson’s debts are cleared.
Those debts include a judgment of $120,602.09 plus interest and costs against Johnson and fellow defendants James Richardson (otherwise known as Jay Richardson, the Ohio State player turned local sports anchor we’ve covered before) and The Richard Allen Group LLC, which was returned earlier this year. That judgment is at the bottom of this post. But before we get to that, there are some more recent developments, specifically around those filings to stop SMAC from paying Johnson. The court filings also include proof of service on SMAC and Johnson. And Tuesday saw a motion for default against Johnson for not answering within 28 days of the date he was served, July 7.
Here’s that particular motion:
Here’s the June 29 complaint for creditor’s bill on Johnson and SMAC:
Some key parts of that:
On March 2, 2022, this Court, in Case No. 18 CV 009775 granted Plaintiff judgment jointly and severally against James E. Richardson IV, the Richard Allen Group LLC, and Defendant Leroy Johnson aka Roy Johnson in the amount of $120,602.09, plus interest and costs. …Defendant Leroy Johnson aka Roy Johnson does not have sufficient real or personal property subject to levy to satisfy the Judgment. 8. Defendant Leroy Johnson aka Roy Johnson has or may have certain equitable and/or other interests in the possession of Defendant SMAC Entertainment, LLC, including but not limited to money contracts between Defendant Leroy Johnson aka Roy Johnson and Defendant SMAC Entertainment, LLC. Plaintiff has an equitable legal right to Defendant Leroy Johnson aka Roy Johnson’s interests described above, including but not limited to proceeds resulting from payments to him from Defendant SMAC Entertainment, LLC. The money due to be paid by Defendant SMAC Entertainment, LLC to Defendant Leroy Johnson aka Roy Johnson is one of the interests enumerated in O.R.C. $2333.01.
The filing of this Complaint for Creditor’s Bill establishes a lien on the identified property against the Defendants, effective from the date this action is commenced. Defendant SMAC Entertainment, LLC should be ordered to pay over said monies as monies due and owing to Defendant Leroy Johnson aka Roy Johnson to Plaintiff at such time as Defendant Johnson is entitled to receive these monies. Defendant SMAC Entertainment, LLC should be enjoined from paying to Defendant Leroy Johnson aka Roy Johnson, his agents, or attorneys, any of the above-mentioned monies, and Defendant Johnson, his agents, or attorneys should be enjoined from receiving any of the above mentioned monies until such time as Plaintiff’s judgment and costs have been paid in full.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff demands judgment against Defendants and prays that:
a. Defendants shall be required to answer and make full and complete disclosure of all of the property, of whatever nature, which is in their possession or under their control in which Defendant Leroy Johnson aka Roy Johnson has any interest, legal or equitable, or from which any money or property is due or becomes due to him;
b. The Court issue an Order directing Defendant SMAC Entertainment, LLC to pay to Plaintiff all amounts due or to become due to Defendant Leroy Johnson aka Roy Johnson for application upon Plaintiff’s judgment all monies due and to become due and payable as may be necessary to fully satisfy Plaintiff’s judgment;
c. The Court issue and [sic] Order enjoining Defendant SMAC Entertainment, LLC from paying or delivering monies to Defendant Leroy Johnson aka Roy Johnson, his agents, or attorneys, and enjoining Johnson, his agents, or attorneys from receiving any monies due and owing from Defendant SMAC Entertainment, LLC until such time as Plaintiff’s judgment and court costs accrued are paid in full;
Two other notable documents there are a filing for a lien against Johnson and the other defendants, from June 29:
And here’s the full March 2 judgment against Johnson and the other defendants:
It’s unlikely this legal issue will have much of an impact on the film. It’s more probably SMAC will just have to navigate who they need to pay for Johnson’s participation; Johnson himself or First Merchants Bank. It’s also not clear how much Johnson was supposed to be paid, and when those payments were supposed to happen. But these filings and services do make it seem like if Johnson does get any money from SMAC down the road, a fair bit of that is going to go to paying off his creditors.
This has happened in other documentary cases. One example saw Netflix pay Anna Sorokin $320,000 for the rights to her life story as used in the Inventing Anna drama. That money was then frozen by the state of New York, and then largely paid out in restitution and fees.
We’ll see what happens next with these court filings around Johnson and SMAC. Hopefully they won’t impact the actual timing of the release of the film.