We don't often dip our toes into the high school ranks around here, but when we do, it usually involves a bizarre and/or eye-opening story.
This would certainly fall in that category. The Seattle Times is reporting that Bellevue (WA) High School will serve a four-year postseason ban after an independent investigation found "significant and long-standing violations" involving the program.
And, boy, are they ever significant and long-standing.
You can read the 68-page report headed by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA), but the cliffs notes are as follows:
The report found Bellevue to be guilty of directing players to classes at a private alternative school (Academic Institute) in order to maintain minimum GPAs for eligibility. In a summary, "One player who attended AI told investigators that one teacher provided him answers to tests. He called the program a 'joke' that served as a 'day care' for players.
Additionally, families of Bellevue players reportedly supplied false addresses to the school district in order to gain eligibility.
The report also found that football team boosters helped subsidize tuition for certain players, and that coach Butch Goncharoff gave cash to a player's family. Overall, the report found that Bellevue administrators "willfully ignored" years of these violations.
For his "leading role" in many of these reported acts, Goncharoff was terminated for violating district policies, per Bellevue's officials. The district also let go long-time assistant coach Pat Jones.
Goncharoff is responsible for building Bellevue into a high school dynasty. The program has won 11 state championships since 2001 and has churned out numerous players into college football stars, including former UCLA linebacker Myles Jack.
According to the Times, "Bellevue has a chance to appeal the sanctions to the SeaKing District level and ultimately to the executive board of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association [WIAA], the organization that oversees high-school athletics in the state."