Coach, boosters respond to potential firing of Bellevue football coach –

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An independent investigation found a series of potential violations on the Bellevue High School football program lead by coach Butch Goncharoff. (AP)

The Bellevue School District is considering firing the head coach of its popular high school football team.

Bellevue High School’s football program has recently come under heavy scrutiny after an investigation into its practices. Now the district has completed an investigation of its own, leading to a recommendation to the school board that it fire Bellevue High Schools’ head football coach Butch Goncharoff.

Related: Investigation raises suspicion of Bellevue football program

Goncharoff could be officially fired by next week, KING 5 reports. KING 5 obtained a letter that was sent to the coach from district officials.

Coach Goncharoff has released this statement in response to the recommendation:

The Bellevue School District told me that I personally have been cleared of the allegations originally raised by the District.”

However, the district is recommending that the school board fire me as head football coach at Bellevue High School based on a new and completely unfounded allegation. They want to fire me for coaching out-of-season summer football camps – activities they fully knew about, approved, and which are standard practice for coaches and teachers across sports, music, academics and other activities.

District leaders are trying to hang their case on a disclosure policy that they admit is vague. In fact, it is virtually unknown and under the district’s strained interpretation would be widely violated in our District. What’s more, it is a policy they are attempting to apply retroactively. Essentially, they changed the rules in the middle of the game, didn’t tell anyone about it, and now I am being punished.

Even worse, while school officials retroactively apply this rule to fire me, they state that they will also use it against coaches across many other sports, teachers in music programs, and other educators and mentors who are paid to help kids in the summer. These are good people doing admirable work, and the district intends to punish them too.

In a May 25 letter to the coach, Jeffery Thomas, executive director of human resources for the school district, informs Coach Goncharoff that the district’s administration will recommend to the school board that his position be terminated.

Thomas conducted an investigation for the district following a previous investigation by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association. The former investigation concluded that the football team had an unethical relationship with a private school in order to import football players. Thomas stated in his letter that his follow up investigation concludes these allegations to be unfounded.

But Thomas did find evidence to support one allegation — that Goncharoff “knowingly and repeatedly” received excessive payments in relation to his job as head football coach. That is a violation of district policies.

My investigation revealed that you received substantial economic benefit by receiving at least $240,000 since 2012 for services you performed that were directly related to your employment as head football coach at Bellevue High School. Since 2009 the total economic benefit you have received exceeds $420,000 in compensation from outside entities over a multi-year period …

Thomas’ letter states that Goncharoff received economic benefit for services performed at Fort Warden Camp, “a district approved and sponsored invitation only football camp for select BHS football players …”

Thomas argues that while Goncharoff said the school board knew of, and approved, his summer activities, there is no record of any official board action on the issue.

The Seattle Times reported that the Bellevue Wolverine Football Club paid Bellevue High School football Coach Butch Goncharoff $60,000 a year for jobs unrelated to coaching during the football season. WIAA rules state that there is a $500 limit on payments to coaches during the season, but Bellevue Football Club president John Connors called the investigation “outrageous” and told KIRO Radio’s  Dori Monson on May 18 that the money was given to the coach outside of the football season, making it perfectly within the WIAA’s codified rules.

After news broke of the impending firing of Coach Goncharoff, the Bellevue Wolverine Football Club released this statement:

We are outraged that the Bellevue School District staff is calling on the school board to terminate Coach Goncharoff.

It is clear to us that this recommendation is horribly flawed in its reasoning, and is motivated by political expediency.

We find it more than curious that the district cleared Coach Goncharoff of any of their original allegations, and in a shocking change of direction based their recommendation to fire him on a vaguely worded policy memo that they have belatedly raised after the fact.

Those of us who have had the opportunity to play for Coach Goncharoff or work alongside him know him to be a man of exceptional character. He does not deserve the treatment the district is giving him, and we will stand alongside him as he works to set the record straight. The district’s misguided actions will affect not only the Bellevue High School community but likely every other school and team in the district.

We have been in communication with our members and countless other parents and former Wolverine players and we intend to voice our support for Coach Goncharoff when the board meets next Tuesday.

Under Coach Goncharoff, the Bellevue High School Wolverines football team have won 11 state titles since 2001.

At one point, Goncharoff was 11-0 in state title games. Bellevue had a 67-game win streak ended by Eastside Catholic in the 2014 state title game.