The Bellevue School District said it is “looking forward to rebuilding our football program and healing in our community.”
Bellevue High School no longer is challenging the sanctions levied against its storied football program, accepting an appeals decision that reduced the team’s postseason ban and left the school’s coaches and state titles potentially protected from punishment.
In a statement Tuesday, the Bellevue School District said it had been seeking to ensure that student-athletes were not excessively penalized.
“At this time, in consideration that the majority of our appeal requests have been granted and have been successful in achieving the least possible impact on current students based on past precedent, we do not expect to appeal this decision and are looking forward to rebuilding our football program and healing in our community,” the district wrote.
Bellevue will play a reduced schedule in the coming two seasons and will be banned from postseason play for those years. The team also is barred from accepting outside support from a booster club for four years, although the school is able to appeal for that sanction to be dropped in 2018. The Bellevue High athletic department will be on probation for four years.
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Bellevue had appealed its conference sanctions to a board of conference principals and then to a district board. Conference officials initially had sought a four-year postseason ban.
Conference officials also had called on Bellevue to investigate allegations of recruiting to determine whether ineligible players had participated in games — a finding that could lead to the forfeiture of state titles. But Bellevue, which has won 11 state titles since 2001, appealed to avoid that investigation by saying evidence of recruiting is based on “innuendo, rumor and supposition.”
The district ruling in recent days did not take a position on whether Bellevue should investigate the recruiting issue, which was part of a Seattle Times story last year and part of the focus of a 68-page independent investigation into the program. The independent investigators had said that the school district’s obstruction had prevented the investigators from fully reviewing the recruiting issue.
The district said it would be up to Bellevue and the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association to decide whether to investigate the matter further.
It also remains unclear whether coaches will fall under any of the sanctions. The final sanctions accepted by Bellevue say coaches found to have violated coaching-pay rules should be banned for four years, but it didn’t determine whether any coaches had violated those rules.
School-district officials had been planning earlier this year to terminate Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff for how he was paid by outside entities, but the district later backtracked on that plan and placed Goncharoff on non-disciplinary administrative leave.