ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – Recently fired Cardinal Ritter coach Brandon Gregory told News 4 he did not know that ineligible running back Bill Jackson had to sit out the team’s opening game this season.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis fired Gregory after an investigation determined Jackson played in the 2019 season opener, a game he was supposed to sit out because he was ejected during the 2018 Class 3 State Championship game.
According to a report, photos showed Jackson wearing another number. He wears #4, but according to a report, he was playing wearing #24. His unique tattoos led to suspicion he was on the field.
Earlier this week, Cardinal Ritter’s athletic department said it launched an internal investigation and the Missouri State High School Athletic Association told News 4 the school self-reported a violation.
Thursday night, Cardinal Ritter was forced to forfeit every game Jackson has played in during the 2019 season.
Friday, the Archdiocese of St. Louis announced the entire coaching staff for Cardinal Ritter was let go and it was suspending the football program for the remainder of the year. The school also said the athletic director had decided to retire.
Gregory spoke to News 4 on Friday and said he made a mistake. However, Gregory said he sat Jackson out of the Jamboree game, thinking that would satisfy the suspension. Gregory said he takes responsibility for not closely looking into MSHAA rules.
"That's kinda my wrongdoing of not knowing the rules and that he shouldn't have not sat out the jamboree, he should have sat out week one so that's what happened," Gregory said.
Gregory also denied that Jackson wearing a different number on his jersey was part of a cover-up.
"That's a thing our kids do on the regular basis, you know, they try to change jersey numbers and sometimes don't let us know," said Gregory.
Gregory added that he is “numb and in shock,” but it shouldn’t “change his character or anything I have done in past.”
The Granite City football team, which was supposed to play Cardinal Ritter Friday night, learned about the cancellation as it pulled up to the school.
“It’s unfortunate because I know they wanted to play tonight. We have a lot to prove. Cardinal Ritter had a pretty good team so we looked forward to coming over here and playing those guys," said Granite City head football coach Orlando Gooden.
Gooden said he plans to use this situation as an opportunity to teach his players about consequences.
"Gotta make good decisions," said Gooden. “Don’t jeopardize your character, just if you know it’s right, do what’s right.”