Bellevue High School committed “significant and long-standing” violations, according to a 68-page report detailing the results of an independent investigation into the school’s nationally recognized football team.
The report says player families provided false addresses to gain eligibility. Coaches — with evidence of head coach Butch Goncharoff playing a leading role — directed and encouraged Bellevue football players to attend a private alternative school that The Seattle Times had last summer reported was a “diploma mill” for athletes.
One football player backed that label, describing the school as a “joke” and “day care” for athletes, according to the report, which was released Tuesday afternoon.
Bellevue has won 11 state titles in 16 years and was ranked as the No. 1 high school football team in the country by Sports Illustrated in 2012.
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The report said at least seven football players received substantial tuition discounts, violating Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) rules that prohibit special “remunerations” or “inducements” for athletes, including “free or reduced tuition.”
Bellevue football boosters in an emailed statement shortly after the report was released refuted the findings, saying the investigators showed blatant bias, harassment and “aggressive and prejudiced tactics.”
Goncharoff wanted one player to take four summer classes “to replace the grades he had received at BHS,” investigators wrote after the player had received four F’s in his Bellevue High classes, making him ineligible to play football. The report shows the student took the same four classes at Academic Institute and received three B’s and an A.
The findings — backed by transcripts, emails, interviews and district documents — were established even though administrators for the district and the high school “deliberately interfered with or obstructed” the inquiry, according to the report, which was written by two former federal prosecutors hired by the WIAA to investigate.
The WIAA did not disclose what penalties would be levied. They could include probation and the forfeiture of state championships.
In the report’s executive summary:
“The investigation established that for a number of years the actions of BHS coaches, the deliberate ignorance of District and BHS administrators, and the complicity of the Bellevue Wolverine Football Club (“Booster Club”) and its members, have unfairly tilted the football field in favor of the Bellevue High School football program and to the obvious detriment of opponents. Moreover, the investigation revealed that the Bellevue High School administrators and football coaches, as well as the Bellevue School District administrators knew, or should have known, of the multiple violations of WIAA rules and chose to overlook, or not thoroughly investigate, these breaches.”
RUNNING INTO BELLEVUE
Bellevue has reached 13 state championship games from 2001-15 and knocked off plenty of teams from the South Sound on its way to the Tacoma Dome in the process.
Bellevue: Won state titles in 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001*
*Has reached state playoffs every year since 2001.
First round: Beat Kennedy Catholic, 49-15
Quarterfinals: Beat Glacier Peak, 35-14
Semifinals: Beat Bishop Blanchet, 56-28
Championship: Lost to Eastside Catholic, 48-42
First round: Beat Sumner, 38-0
Quarterfinals: Beat Peninsula, 31-7
Semifinals: Beat Marysville-Pilchuck, 20-10
Championship: Lost to Eastside Catholic, 35-13
First round: Beat Glacier Peak, 48-6
Quarterfinals: Beat Peninsula, 48-27
Semifinals: Beat Shadle Park, 66-0
Championship: Beat Eastside Catholic, 52-20
First round: Beat Ferndale, 28-0
Quarterfinals: Beat Peninsula, 40-3
Semifinals: Beat Mount Si, 37-7
Championship: Beat Eastside Catholic, 35-3
First round: Beat Eastside Catholic, 42-0
Quarterfinals: Beat Lakes, 35-14
Semifinals: Beat Kamiakin, 21-10
Championship: Beat O’Dea, 35-16
First round: Beat Timberline, 59-14
Quarterfinals: Beat Liberty of Issaquah, 35-0
Semifinals: Beat Lakes, 35-7
Championship: Beat Kamiakin, 38-0
First round: Beat Mount Si, 49-17
Quarterfinals: Beat Glacier Peak, 34-7
Semifinals: Beat Union, 19-13
Championship: Beat Liberty of Issaquah, 23-17
First round: Beat Lindbergh, 35-6
Quarterfinals: Beat Liberty of Issaquah, 35-7
Semifinals: Beat Capital, 28-6
Championship: Beat Union, 35-6
First round: Beat Newport of Bellevue, 21-10
Quarterfinals: Beat Southridge, 37-10
Semifinals: Lost to O’Dea, 27-17
First round: Beat Issaquah, 21-0
Quarterfinals: Beat Eastside Catholic, 35-13
Semifinals: Beat Auburn, 47-0
Championship: Beat Kennedy Catholic, 21-14
First round: Beat Lindbergh, 63-7
Quarterfinals: Lost to Prosser, 38-35
First round: Beat Franklin Pierce, 38-7
Quarterfinals: Beat Timberline, 49-9
Semifinals: Beat Lynden, 41-21
Championship: Beat Ferndale, 31-28
First round: Beat Lakes, 49-7
Quarterfinals: Beat Timberline, 21-14
Semifinals: Beat Issaquah, 21-0
Championship: Beat O’Dea, 21-7
First round: Beat Kennedy Catholic, 60-7
Quarterfinals: Beat O’Dea, 17-12
Semifinals: Beat Columbia River, 46-7
Championship: Beat Lynden, 28-19
First round: Beat Columbia River, 49-9
Quarterfinals: Beat Ferndale, 14-0
Semifinals: Beat Skyline, 42-24
Championship: Beat Lynden, 42-15