The organization that oversees high-school sports in Washington passed a rule this week that makes member schools cooperate during investigations into potential rules violations.
The organization that regulates high-school sports in Washington now requires member schools to cooperate with investigations that focus on potential rules violations.
The regulation approved earlier this week by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) mirrors a recommendation that investigators made in a recent 68-page report about the Bellevue High School football program. That report said Bellevue School District officials had obstructed the investigation and refused to turn over information.
Mike Colbrese, the executive director of the WIAA, said the rule change had been under consideration for a while and wasn’t really about Bellevue. He said the change had more to do with the WIAA conducting four fact-finding investigations in the last couple of years, leading the board to look at the process.
“The board felt that the handbook didn’t have enough teeth in it,” Colbrese said.
Bellevue football investigation:
Bellevue officials have been working in recent weeks to review the WIAA investigation and conduct follow-up interviews of their own.
The school had been planning to report on the issues to the KingCo Conference next week. But KingCo president George Crowder said he is unavailable then, so the report is now expected the week of May 23.
Crowder said the process is also just beginning and may take more time to complete because of the large scope of the Bellevue case.
“We want to go slowly and cautiously and deliberately so that we get it right,” Crowder said.
Bellevue High School has the chance to propose its own sanctions, and the school board has indicated that it would like stern punishments for any proven violations. KingCo leaders could vote to add sanctions beyond what the school proposes.
The school district requested the independent probe after stories last year in The Seattle Times, including an article that found 17 Bellevue football players had attended The Academic Institute, an obscure program at a Bellevue office park that two former teachers had labeled a diploma mill.
Over the past 15 years under coach Butch Goncharoff, the Bellevue Wolverines became the most dominant team in the state and were ranked No. 1 nationally. The team has won 11 Class 3A state football titles since 2001.