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'School's never going to be the same': Cardinal Ritter community meets to talk next steps

One mother, who has a freshman on the team, said the players are "upset and discouraged."

ST. LOUIS — Cardinal Ritter students, parents and alum attended a meeting at the school on Sunday afternoon. The media was not permitted to enter the meeting, but multiple parents told 5 On Your Side the purpose of the event was to provide more clarity for families, discuss next steps and create more morale for students. 

Cardinal Ritter students will return to school Monday, just days after learning the football team is suspended for the rest of the year because the school played an ineligible student in the first game of the season. 

RELATED: Cardinal Ritter football season over, coaches fired, athletic director retiring after investigation

Local reaction continues to pour out as many question the severity of the punishment as well as the decisions leading up to the offense. 

RELATED: Did Cardinal Ritter's punishment fit the offense? Locals react after coaches fired, season canceled

Many parents told 5 On Your Side they went into the meeting not sure what will happen next for their football program.

One mother, who has a freshman on the team, said the players are "upset and discouraged."

Serenity Willis, a sophomore at Cardinal Ritter, said she is close to both members of the football team and the coaches. 

"They built me and pushed me to be a better me, and it's like all of that got taken away from us," Willis said. 

While some parents, alum and students told 5 On Your Side they do not feel playing the ineligible student justifies the punishment the Archdiocese of St. Louis handed down to Cardinal Ritter, others said they felt that better decision-making could have prevented this from happening.

On Monday, parents said they plan to gather outside of the school to welcome students with gifts and snacks to remind them that they are supported.

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.'

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