Eastern Christian Academy Article

Submitted by AmaizingBlue3 on June 30th, 2013 at 6:55 PM

I know a lot of people have questioned Eastern Christian Academy (the school Canteen and Watson go to) so I thought this article would be of interest to many of you. The article discuss's how ECA was founded and why they split from Red Lion Christian Academy.





June 30th, 2013 at 7:18 PM ^

because Red Lion got a new superintendent/principal who wanted to deemphasize the football-factory nature of the school. Given that David Sills' dad is pretty much only interested in the football side, it was not surprising that they all peaced out


June 30th, 2013 at 8:34 PM ^

To support that a little, here's an old article (late September of 2012) that supports this. (LINK)

The Washington Post piece in the link points to how Sills bankrolled several athletic facilities improvements at Red Lion over the span of a decade or so and how that was behind the fear at the school that football was becoming too dominant. 

Also in this article is some insight into how their application to the MPSSAA went down, including how the headmaster of National Connections claims not have been asked about the football program or how the school was organized, but that the application was denied on hearsay, in his opinion. 

At the time of this article, no Maryland Department Of Education officials had talked about the story. 


June 30th, 2013 at 7:44 PM ^

I wouldn't expect any academic eligibility/qualification issues from ECU since Kenny Bigelow and Khaliel Rodgers and a handfull of others qualified last year at USC, UConn, Miss St., and WVU, and Sills own son looks to qualify next year. I'd imagine Sills is taking the matter seriously enough.


June 30th, 2013 at 7:45 PM ^

One thing I've been wondering: why did they only play 3 games last year? What good is a football factory that doesn't, you know, play very much football? So you have talented, underscouted kids who some college coaches are reluctant to offer due to academic concerns. Hmmm


June 30th, 2013 at 10:08 PM ^

Well, Canteen is like the greatest route-runner ever so maybe not? Even though yes, it seems silly to have a football factory not play many actual football games. Seems to me like the whole ECA concept was a poorly planned vision of David Sills' dad. No school building, no facilities, and only 3 football games in their first year screams last minute to me


June 30th, 2013 at 8:11 PM ^

They were denied entry to the Maryland athletic association for highschools due to concerns over if academics or football ran the school.  Also about the number of out of state athletes on a Maryland team.  When word got around ECA had failed to obtain state sanction, everyone cancelled on them.  

When ECA was founded it was a football program partnered with this nationwide online highschool, so you didn't get a ECA degree, you got one from this online highschool and ECA  was purely sports.  This year they're changing it up so future graduates with get an ECA diploma and the online highschool is just the service provider.  Basically there never was any concern over the academics of the online highschool but rather what exactly ECA was.  



June 30th, 2013 at 8:50 PM ^

I'm hoping we did our due diligence in that area and saw some standarized test scores or pre ECA highschool work.  This National Connections company appears to have a clean record so far, but they only started in 2011, so they don't have much of a record period.  

The big fear is that you can train someone to pass the SAT/ACT without actually teaching them study habits and other things that might not be obvious until their second year of college.  It needs to be a legit online program, not just 4 years of standarized test prep.  


June 30th, 2013 at 8:44 PM ^

I'm sure there was concern last year by many coaches.  But the online entity they are using for coursework is accredited, so there seems to be no problem there.  The student athletes will still have to take the SAT or ACT exams just like everyone else to become eligible to play college sports.


June 30th, 2013 at 11:30 PM ^

And it can be just as true for brick and mortar as online schools. Public or private, it doesn't really matter, there are both very good and very bad schools in the mix. I have worked as a university advisor before, and I've seen students graduating from fully accredited high schools trying to enroll who could barely read, write, or do simple math. One student graduated sixth in her class (of about 250) but required remediation across the board.  Her ACT scores were 16s and 17s (20 is the minimum to be considered college ready).  And perhaps this is why I'm less worried about Eastern Christian Academy than others may be: I've seen just how truly awful some high schools can be, and quite honestly, I can't imagine any parent with even an ounce of intelligence and integrity creating a school as bad as some that already exist.


June 30th, 2013 at 9:39 PM ^

USC COMMITTED (07/11/2012) Offered 01/18/2013 James Cregg, Tee Martin
Auburn None Offered None  
Boston Coll. None Offered None  
Cincinnati None Offered None  
Clemson None   None  
Connecticut None Offered None Matt Cersosimo, Mike Foley
Hawaii None Offered None  
Houston None Offered None  
Iowa None Offered None  
Maryland None   None  
Mississippi None Offered None  
Mississippi St. None Offered None  
Ohio St. None Offered None  
Purdue None Offered None  
Rutgers None Offered None  
South Carolina None   None  
Temple None Offered None  
Texas A&M None Offered None  
UCLA None Offered None Adrian Klemm
Virginia None   None  
Washington None Offered None  
Washington St. None Offered None  
West Virginia None Offered None Daron Roberts
W. Kentucky None Offered None


June 30th, 2013 at 9:40 PM ^

USC COMMITTED (11/30/2011) Offered 12/14/2012 Ed Orgeron, Tee Martin
Auburn None Offered None  
Clemson None Offered None  
Connecticut None Offered None  
Illinois None Offered None  
Maryland None Offered None  
Ohio St. None Offered None  
Oklahoma None Offered None Jackie Shipp
Oregon None   None  
Penn St. None Offered None  
Rutgers None Offered None  
Temple None Offered None  
UCLA None Offered None  
Virginia None Offered None


June 30th, 2013 at 9:43 PM ^

Posted the offers list for Bigelow and Rodgers from last year (probably a lot more too, but that's what I pulled from Rivals).  Overall, I'm not sure why people are getting all skeptical.  This type of alternative program is pretty damn common.  A lot of my friends who were legit musicians growing up did these online courses (supplemented w/ home schooling) to get enough credits since they were on tour all year.  Besides, you don't really learn much in high school these days and you could probably pass most of these standardized tests just by reading a few study books.  Fergodsakes, even foreign kids from like China who can't speak a lick of English "pass" the SAT.


June 30th, 2013 at 10:08 PM ^

People are 'skeptical' because it is out of the norm.  Let's be frank, if "Urbz" pulled 2 kids from a "football academy with only online courses" this board would be up all in arms over it.   You can only imagine the snarky comments.  

Like others said I am sure a lot of due diligence was done by the coaches, in fact a lot more than in a "normal school" due to the unique circumstances, but the sheer fact this is a rare type of school raises eyebrows.  

Kids are kids and once they are on campus and in the Michigan system it will be an afterthought but it is a very different sort of school set up - we have a few of these type of things in basketball and it's considered nothing unique so maybe in 10 years it won't be that way in football but right now it's a new thing and hence people have legitimate questions.


June 30th, 2013 at 10:54 PM ^

My point was not the offer list.  My point was if Urbz landed 2 kids in 1 day from a "foot ball academy with online courses" the snark fest would be overwhelming. 

From the article it sounds like many of these kids were in a school in Delaware and "broke off" to go to this "school".  A lot of it sounds like a last minute decision from the article - they were looking at placing the school HQ either at an old plastic factory or a strip mall.  Let's be honest - this is atypical.  No home field to practice on, etc.

I will be interested to see if Sills plans to continue the "school" or once his son gets into USC it dissolves into nothing but a 2 year memory. 

SC Wolverine

June 30th, 2013 at 10:32 PM ^

Given the abysmal performance of so many public schools today, we should not be surprised at a wide variety of alternatives.  To be sure, due diligence is needed to make sure they are legit.  but alternative education may simply mean that they are determined actually to educate their kids.


June 30th, 2013 at 11:24 PM ^

ECA has nothing to do with the state of education in the US and everything to do with what is wrong with big time college sports these days. I doubt ECA would withstand much scrutiny if someone took the time to check out what's really going on there. They say that it exists to get kids that could not afford college on their own football scholarships, but where is the money coming from for them to attend ECA?


June 30th, 2013 at 10:55 PM ^

I'm actually not that skeptical of the academics, I trust Hoke wouldn't be putting offers out there to kids that go to a fake school.  My point, which seems to be a bit poorly communicated, is moreso that the school has to a certain degree not done a great job of getting its recruits 'on the map' so to speak.  If recruits play so few regular season games that they have to absolutely shine at camps to get noticed/offered, the school isn't doing that hot as a 'football factory' and the kids ironically might be better served (i.e. have more offers at this stage...) by being at a more traditional, less football-focused school.  To be clear: I'm perfectly happy, even quite excited, about the Watson and Canteen commitments.  But thanks for posting Khaliel Rodgers's offer list, I guess...


June 30th, 2013 at 11:32 PM ^

Just to elaborate on Khaliel Rodgers and Kenny Bigelow a little bit... they were both high-four stars or five stars across the rankings sites.  Therefore, there is some precedent that ECA's students have the potential to shine in front of the football gods just as much as students in traditional schools.  That being said, I agree that they should have a full season, but I can only imagine how hard it is to schedule games when you're essentially "out-of-conference" and likely to beat up on any school that you face. 


July 1st, 2013 at 10:56 AM ^

Yes, I believe that you don't learn much in high school compared to learning the same material at home or via an online curriculm.  There is a social aspect of high school that students miss out on, but I think that at-home or online teaching is equivalent to, or in some instances, superior to traditional American high schools.

I said Chinese kids who do not "speak" English.  I have assumed that they can "read and write" English so that they can actually take the SAT (i.e., understanding that the verbal part of such exam measures reading, writing and vocabulary (and not speaking)).  This experience is pretty typical as you may have noticed some of our foreign students have significant aptitude with respect to reading and writing English, but not with respect to speaking (which I admit is significantly more difficult given that they don't have much ability to practice it while in a foreign country).

And to top it off, some of these foreign kids actually have better standardized test scores than American kids in average American high schools.  Further, I would also note that these foreign kids often receive their English education in an "alternative format" (i.e., through private or group tutoring at home). 

I don't think any of this is controversial, but please feel free to parse my comments.  My overarching thesis is that the traditional American high school model is not necessary and students who have been taught in other formats (whether it be home school, online or otherwise) could be similarly educated and capable of thriving in a college environment.


July 1st, 2013 at 1:24 PM ^

I guess I don't understand what is remarkable about "Chinese" students that can read and write English doing well on a standardized test in English.

And to top it off, some of these foreign kids actually have better standardized test scores than American kids in average American high schools.

What does that mean? Some "foreign" children are smarter than some American kids?

This is news?


June 30th, 2013 at 10:45 PM ^

So this article was written 10 months ago and at the time there were 54 students, 46 of them being the football team. I'm curious to know if the school has grown much heading into this year. Also, are the 8 students who don't play football there specifically because they make up a girls team in a different sport?

Mr. Yost

June 30th, 2013 at 10:49 PM ^

...is better than some players we've recruited from poor/underfunded/overcrowded "traditional" 4 year high schools. Those guys don't have study habits either, that's why academic support is so important.


June 30th, 2013 at 10:59 PM ^

Yep - a lot of the traditional schools just stink as well, especially in a lot of the places the top talent comes from.  The U.S. definitely has a very broken public school system - reading up on some of the horror stories of DPS the last few years is just sad.  Knowing it is being replicated in many areas across the nation is very worrying for the future of the nation in a globalized world, with a global workforce.  

Turning back to this specific case, I would think the online system does teach you to be more self reliant at an earlier age rather than sleepwalking through the most basic public HS classes that are dumbed down to the point that any zombie who at least shows up for school can pass so the school as a whole can show a decent 'graduation rate'.


June 30th, 2013 at 11:15 PM ^

I thought Eastern Christian Academy sounded very familiar. After reading the article it hit me. I did the renovations at the Red Lion Academys Church in Bear, DE. There are alot of people there that don't think too highly of ECA or the elder Sills.


July 1st, 2013 at 3:38 AM ^

ECA and online school maybe legit and be the new wave but here is where this gets tricky. Take a kid like Tate who was home schooled but played for a high school team. He had the talent but probably was never challenged academically and there were some things missed that are hard to evaluate in such short time periods in recruiting. if you are emphasizing football or sports in general already at the h.s. level then there is no way they are taking courses to be ready for college. Hell I seen around here how people rag on certain universities for there funneling of athletes into "stay eligible" only majors. And UNC just went through a whole academic scandal where there were athlete only classes. This just takes it to the high school level.