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Suspended HS football player competes under fake identity — then school cancels the season and fires every coach

Costly deception

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A high school in St. Louis canceled the remainder of its football season and fired every football coach on staff after discovering that a player who was supposed to be suspended had competed in the season opener, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Cardinal Ritter College Prep was 7-0 when an investigation by local sports site STLhighschoolsports.com raised suspicions about the identity of a particular running back who participated in the first game of the season.

BIll Jackson is a junior. He was suspended for the first game of this season after being ejected from the championship game last season, per the rules of the state athletics association.

But Cardinal Ritter opted to start Jackson anyway under the identity of a freshman running back named Marvin Burks, who wore a different jersey number (but suspiciously had the exact same tattoos on his arm).

Posing as a freshman, Jackson ran for 109 yards and scored a 56-yard touchdown in the win. Cardinal Ritter head coach Brandon Gregory perpetuated the identity of Marvin Burks in local media, saying the freshman "earned" the start. Jackson also played his part, talking about how difficult it was to sit out a game.

Once the deception was uncovered, the school's athletic director forfeited all the previous games because an ineligible player had participated, and canceled the remainder of the season. Then the AD, Preston Thomas, retired. The school president, Tamiko Armstead, fired all the football coaches.

Even after being fired, coach Gregory continued to stick to his version of the story, saying he didn't know that Jackson was supposed to be suspended for the game.

"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 claimed.

Gregory is asserting that although he felt Jackson had been eligible to play, he decided to have him suit up as a freshman under a different name and jersey number and also tell the media about it.

Now, no one knows when the football program will be reinstated.

"The priority right now for Ms. Armstead is to walk through this difficult time with the community and students," said Peter Frangie, executive director of communications for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

(H/T: CBS Sports)

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