Board members for SeaKing District 2 have determined that the Bellevue High football team will be barred from the postseason for two years. That’s down from a four-year recommendation sought by Bellevue’s conference.
An appeals board has rolled back some of the sanctions that were imposed upon the Bellevue High football program in the wake of an independent investigation.
Board members for SeaKing District 2 have determined that the program should be barred from the postseason for two years — down from a four-year recommendation sought by Bellevue’s conference. A proposal to ban the program from playing non-league games has been lifted slightly to allow a contest that already had been planned against Tumwater High this year.
The KingCo Conference said this year that it had found evidence that athletes were improperly recruited to the football team, so the conference had called on the school district to investigate the matter in partnership with the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association. The conference had said Bellevue would have to forfeit titles if ineligible players had participated in games.
But the SeaKing board said that recommendation to investigate the matter further isn’t actually a sanction, so it didn’t take a position on whether to investigate.
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“Whether there is any cause for further investigation of potential past recruiting violations is a decision for the WIAA and Bellevue High School,” the board wrote.
It remains unclear whether coaches will face sanctions under the decisions. The SeaKing board said 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 moved to terminate Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff for violating coaching-pay rules, but the district later backtracked on that plan and placed Goncharoff on non-disciplinary administrative leave.
Bellevue, with the legal help of former state attorney general Rob McKenna, has been appealing sanctions imposed against the program, arguing in particular against punishments that harm players who are just entering high school. The school can continue to appeal the SeaKing decision to the WIAA’s district directors — and then ultimately to the WIAA’s executive board.
Under the revised sanctions, Bellevue largely is still barred from playing non-league games for the next two seasons. It will not be allowed to play out-of-state opponents for four 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.