Investigation into Bellevue High School football team finds ‘sufficient evidence’ against coaching staff –

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

The Bellevue High School football team has violated state sports rules for years, according to an investigation obtained by KIRO Radio.

The 78-page report found that Bellevue administrators ignored rules and the team’s head coach, Butch Goncharoff, told football players to enroll in an alternative school where boosters subsidized their tuition.

Findings included emails, interviews and other district documents, according to report. Administrators tried to obstruct the investigation, which was written by two former prosecutors hired by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.

Additionally, families provided false addresses to the school district so their students would be eligible to play for the football team.

A previous news release from the WIAA says the investigation included a six-month review of the program. The fact-finding examination looked at five allegations as requested by the Bellevue School District in August 2015, including: coaches directing athletes to attend the alternative school; boosters paying for tuition; false addresses for athletes; and coaches coordinating tuition payments. A fifth allegation that athletes received subsidized housing to gain eligibility did not have sufficient information.

A statement from the Bellevue Wolverines Football Club says it believes it did not violate any state sports regulations.

“From the outset of this investigation, we pursued every possible avenue to vocalize serious concerns about the investigators’ extraordinarily blatant bias, coupled with their aggressive and prejudiced tactics used to develop this report,” the statement says. “Now we have seen the report, and its contents not only confirm our concerns with the investigation, but they are significantly increased because of the investigators’ seriously flawed conclusions and profound misinterpretation of WIAA regulations.”

The statement says the report “fails to provide any evidence to support allegations against [the club] and BHS football coaches.”

“By its own admission, the report is based on ‘inferences rather than direct evidence,’ and it is instead rife with errors, misinformation, rumors and the conjecture of the investigators,” the statement says. “We believe the WIAA’s own fact-finding guidelines prohibit such sloppy methodology.”

Though the statement says there are “many” examples of the investigation’s missteps, the most “infuriating” is the “blatant harassment and disrespect of the families, students, volunteers and generous supporters within our community, at the hands of these investigators.”

“We are deeply troubled by the pain that innocent families have endured over the past 15 months,” the statement says. “No family should be harassed, bullied, belittled, intimidated and especially discriminated against because of their race or background.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.