ST. LOUIS — One of the top high school football programs in the State of Missouri's football season is over after an investigation.
The announcement came after 5 On Your Side learned that the football team would forfeit all of its games played this season, a player would be suspended for eight games and the head coach had been fired.
Cardinal Ritter College Prep president, Tamiko Amistead, announced the suspension in a Friday evening statement. In addition to the suspension. all coaches were also fired and the school's athletic director, Preston Thomas, has decided to retire.
Cardinal Ritter had been ranked by MaxPreps as the No. 1 small school football team in the country.
On Oct. 15, the school self-reported to the Missouri State High School Activities Association that they used an ineligible player on Aug. 31 in its season opener.
There were also some other sanctions regarding student eligibility, but MSHSAA has not released those details.
Gregory spoke exclusively to 5 On Your Side's Ahmad Hicks on Friday about the scandal.
Bill Jackson has been suspended for eight games, starting with the Oct. 18 game. Initially, MSHSAA said the player was suspended for one game. It's unclear what changed.
Since the season has been suspended, Jackson's eight-game suspension will roll over to next season.
Bill Jackson, a junior running back, was suspended for week 1 this season because he was ejected in the 2018 Class 3 State Championship Game.
In the Aug. 31 game, a player who appears to be Jackson wore No. 24 but he was identified on the roster as freshman Marvin Burks, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Jackson was eligible to return the following week against Lutheran North and wore his traditional No. 4.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported photographs from both games show Jackson played against Nazareth. He has unique, identifying tattoos running down his right bicep and forearm which are visible in photos from both games.
Video posted on coach Brandon Gregory’s Instagram account shows No. 24 leading the team through their pregame huddle call before the season opener on Aug. 31. On Sept. 7, there’s a similar video posted to his account that shows No. 4 in the same role doing the same routine.
Gregory made his Instagram private sometime on Wednesday.
Cardinal Ritter football was ranked No. 1 among small schools, according to Max Preps.
Statement from Cardinal Ritter College Prep President Tamiko Amistead
'This week, we learned of an alleged incident involving one of our scholar-athletes who played in our first regular-season football game, for which he was ineligible. As soon as we became aware of the incident, we began an internal investigation. Upon finding the allegation to be true, we self-reported the incident to the Missouri State High School Athletic Association (MSHSAA), and began a further collaborative investigation with the organization.
Based on further review of the results of that investigation, in which we worked closely with the Archdiocese of St. Louis, we have decided to suspend the Cardinal Ritter football program for the remainder of this school year. In addition to the suspension of the program, all current coaches serving the Cardinal Ritter football team will be permanently released from Cardinal Ritter College Prep immediately. Furthermore, Cardinal Ritter’s Athletic Director, Preston Thomas, has made the decision to retire.
While this is a very difficult time for Cardinal Ritter, it is important to us to honor the school’s mission of Faith Development, Academics and Leadership—and the responsibility it has to its students, its community and our Catholic faith to live out that mission—in all that we do.
The investigation into this incident is ongoing, and due to our school policy, we will not discuss further details of personnel matters. Our school will continue to work hand-in-hand with the Archdiocese of St. Louis to investigate, evaluate and respond to the information that has been provided to us.
I would like to reiterate that through all of this, the welfare of our students and Cardinal Ritter community continues to be our highest priority as we persevere in upholding our mission—and in prayer for all of those involved.'