The Bellevue football booster club said Tuesday it pays $60,000 a year to head coach Butch Goncharoff but doesn’t violate any rules because the money doesn’t compensate him for coaching during the football season.
For months, the Bellevue football booster club refused to talk to investigators about its payments to head football coach Butch Goncharoff. Club president John Connors told The Seattle Times on Tuesday the club pays the celebrated coach about $60,000 a year — but only for activities unrelated to in-season coaching.
Connors, a former Microsoft CFO, said in an interview that Goncharoff has been paid “for a whole host of things,” including working on summer football camps, youth programs and other non-football events.
The district gives Goncharoff a coaching stipend, which was $9,000 in 2015.
Rules from the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) require payments to a coach in excess of “$500 in a season” to be approved by the school board. Goncharoff’s payments were permissible, Connors said, because they weren’t for coaching during the season.
Bellevue football investigation:
In a report released Tuesday, investigators hired by the WIAA criticized the district for not questioning Goncharoff “in a meaningful way” about his payments. They found that officials seemed to be relying on the narrowest interpretation of the rule.
Goncharoff and the booster club had declined to provide information to the investigators about payments, saying they believed such questions were outside the scope of the WIAA’s investigation.
The nonprofit Bellevue Wolverines Football Club paid at least $312,059 to Bellevue coaches from 2008 to 2012, according to its public tax returns. Investigators said in their report that “coaches received excessive payments for coaching high school football.”
The $500 rule, established in 2008 by the WIAA, was prompted by a Bellevue school-district investigation that found boosters paid Goncharoff $55,000 in a year. Bellevue school officials then asked the WIAA to put limits on booster club payments to coaches.
The WIAA eventually decided to limit coaching stipends to $500 unless the school board agreed to allow more.
In the Tuesday report, the WIAA investigators said that since the rule change the school board hadn’t approved any payments for Goncharoff.