ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – Cardinal Ritter has suspended its football program for the rest of the school year and fired its entire coaching staff after it was determined an ineligible player suited up earlier this season.
The move came hours after the school announced it fired its head coach.
After an investigation was launched to determine if an ineligible football player took the field for Cardinal Ritter High School earlier this season, the team’s first seven games of the year have been forfeited. The team also forfeited Friday's game against Granite City.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis on Friday confirmed the coach, Brandon Gregory, was relieved of his duties. The Archdiocese also announced its athletic director has decided to retire.
The Missouri State High School Athletic Association (MSHAA) previously told News 4 that the school self-reported a violation of using an ineligible player Tuesday. Cardinal Ritter Athletic Director Preston Thomas also said the school has launched an internal investigation.
The school and MSHAA are looking into whether running back Bill Jackson played in the season opener against Nazareth on August 31. Jackson was supposed to sit out the opener because he was ejected from the Class 3 State Championship Game in 2018.
According to a report, photos from the game show Jackson on the field wearing another number. Jackson wears #4, but according a report, he was wearing #24. His unique tattoos led to suspicion that he was on the field.
Cardinal Ritter was highly-ranked and undefeated, but Thursday night the MSHAA’s website listed the team’s first seven games of the year as an “F” for forfeit.
According to MSHAA’s by-laws, a school must forfeit all games in which an ineligible player played, which meant Cardinal Ritter would forfeit all its games so far in 2019.
“The Archdiocese of St Louis is working closely with the leadership at Cardinal Ritter to ensure that the mission of the school which is Faith, Academics, and Leadership are carried out at all levels for our students and the Cardinal Ritter community. I can confirm that school leadership has relieved the head football coach of his responsibilities. We will update you as the internal investigation continues," the Archdiocese said Friday.
MSHAA will held a conference call with the school on Thursday to discuss the next steps but does not expect to have a final decision on any punishment for the program by that time.