Richard Brown, who has coached running backs for the Wolverines, will take over the program for spring practices. A Bellevue School District spokeswoman said Brown was chosen in part because he’s familiar with Bellevue’s style of play.
The embattled Bellevue High School football program now has an interim head coach, as school district leaders elevated an assistant who has worked with the team for more than a decade, officials said Friday.
Richard Brown, who has been a running-backs coach for the Wolverines, will take over the program for spring practices. He replaces long-time head coach Butch Goncharoff, whom the district has moved to fire in the wake of an independent investigation of the football program and the district’s subsequent follow-up review.
Brown was chosen, in part, because he’s familiar with the style of play that Goncharoff developed at Bellevue, said district spokeswoman Elizabeth Sytman. She wasn’t sure how long it would take for the school to decide on a permanent head coach. Brown did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
In the 68-page independent investigation of the football program, Brown was only mentioned once, as one of the coaches who had visited a private alternative school that numerous Bellevue players attended in recent years. Brown is an academic counselor at Bellevue High.
Bellevue football investigation:
· Complete Bellevue scandal coverage »
· Bellevue football banned from postseason for 4 years
· WIAA lifts Bellevue postseason ban, strips two state titles
· Cedar Park Christian hires ex-Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff
· Two-year ban for Goncharoff ruled violation of union rights
· After upheaval, sanctions, Bellevue ready to get back to playing football again
Read full KingCo sanctions on Bellevue
· Report: Bellevue coaches violated rules for years, district obstructed probe
Read full WIAA investigative report
Bellevue officials had told the investigators that Brown visited The Academic Institute when a student called him to meet with college coaches that showed up at the private school during his senior year.
At his counseling job, Brown has worked closely with The Academic Institute, which has been derided by former teachers as a “diploma mill” and a former student as a “day care” for athletes. Emails obtained by The Seattle Times show Brown regularly discussed Academic Institute grades, transcripts and class approvals with students, parents and other school officials. In some cases, he would email directly with Jennifer Vice, the head of the The Academic Institute.
One day, Vice went over to Bellevue High with a student in order to visit with his counselor. But the student’s counselor wasn’t in, so she emailed Brown to ask for advice on when the best time was to connect with his co-worker.
Brown is now working to put together a coaching staff for the coming season, Sytman said. Meanwhile, team supporters haven’t given up on challenging Goncharoff’s ouster. District officials have recommended he be terminated, but Goncharoff’s attorney has challenged the reasoning behind the decision.
The district also told Pat Jones, the assistant head coach who has been with the team for nearly 30 years, that he would not be retained for the upcoming year. Jones, who leads the Bellevue Coaches Association, filed an unfair labor practice complaint this week with the Public Employment Relations Commission.
In the complaint, the association argues, in part, that the school district did not allow the association to collectively bargain the interpretation of policies that were used to seek Goncharoff’s termination. The complaint calls for the coaches to be reinstated.
Along with the termination of Goncharoff, Bellevue officials have proposed a temporary suspension of its booster club and new training to ensure rules are followed in the future. The KingCo Conference has been reviewing Bellevue’s proposal and plans to make a decision on those remedies in the coming days.