(Renton, WA) The Bellevue High School Football team will get to play in this year’s post season if they qualify after the WIAA Executive board reduced their penalties regarding recruiting violations over an extended period of time under then Head Coach Butch Goncharoff.
An independent investigation ordered by the WIAA after the request came from District 2 and the Kingco League found several violations including a diploma mill school set up in the Bellevue District where players would attend and were able to be eligible to play for the Wolverines.
The initial sanctions from the Kingco league included a post-season ban of 4 years among several other items including the dismantling of their booster club that was raising more than half a million dollars annually and much of that was going for tuition costs of the diploma mill school. They were also paying Goncharoff a minimum of $60,000 a year to run a sports camp.
The WIAA Executive Board then finally ruled a 2-year ban instead of 4 and today reduced that sanction even more due to the progress of Bellevue has made in addressing the issues. The Board was hesitant to reduce the penalty but was confident in the changes that have been and are continuing to be made and there was a distinct change in culture at Bellevue.
The other thought that played heavy on the board was making sure to punish those whom were responsible and not kids that are now in the program that had nothing to do with violations. The final decision was to allow the Wolverines to play in this year’s post-season if they qualify. But they also voted to vacate Bellevue’s State placings for 2012, 2013 and 2014. That is 2 State Championships and a 2nd place finish that no longer in the Bellevue Trophy case. Those year’s will not have a crowned Champion the 2nd place teams will not be moved up as Champions.
Here is the official statement from the WIAA Executive Board from Executive Director Mike Colbrese:
“The Executive Board of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) voted, Monday, to amend the sanctions that were previously imposed on Bellevue High School.
The Board lifted the remaining year on Bellevue High School football’s postseason ban, making the team eligible for postseason play beginning in 2017. The Board also voted to vacate the WIAA State Football playoff finishes by Bellevue High School in 2012, 2013 and 2014, citing a lack of institutional control during those years, while also imposing a $2,500 fine which will be applied to the WIAA coaches’ education and concussion management activities. In addition, Bellevue High School will be required to provide ongoing reports to the WIAA Executive Board to document institutional reform.
Bellevue High School representatives presented to the WIAA Executive Board on September 24, 2017, detailing the changes made to policies and procedures within the school and school district.
In making the announcement, WIAA Executive Director Mike Colbrese said that the WIAA Board recognized the important strides made to address the concerns noted in the March 2016 independent investigative report, but the program’s violation of for WIAA core principles and its failure to honor the rules of the organization’s 410 schools and 500,000 students could not go without consequences.
“The Board recognized that there has been a culture shift at Bellevue High School with the changes that have been made to that program,” said Colbrese. “The change in sanctions is an effort to the address the institution that was responsible for the violations committed.”