Sports Gone Wild, Bellevue Football Parents Sue District, WIAA
Experts and officials have called it the worst example of cheating and fraud in Washington state high school sports history, but now parents of players are suing.
A group of parents who are part of the Bellevue High School football booster club have filed a lawsuit in Seattle, seeking to have the most harsh penalties ever handed to a WA high school football team overturned.
Over the last two years, a Seattle Times investigation as well as one done by the Washington State Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) found dozens of cases of fraud, cheating, and other rule breaking by the 3A football powerhouse.
The Wolverines have won numerous state championships since the early 2000's and have been probably the most powerful football program in state history at any level.
But after years of rumors of cheating, the Times investigation showed the team, and booster club, as well as the school district committed dozens of infractions. They included illegally recruiting high school and middle school players, using fake addresses so out of district players could join the team, and paying for rent and other bills for parents who couldn't afford to move their players into the District. It also discovered illegal payments to coaches, and the use of a suspect diploma factory called The Academic Institute, to offer below-grade easy courses to allow players to stay eligible.
Other infractions were discovered as well. But now the parents, and members of the Wolverine Booster club, have filed the suit, claiming the harsh penalties are hurting their children. The Bellevue School District said two weeks ago they would not fight the sanctions, which include no state playoffs for two years, and no non-conference games. There's also a ban on booster club contributions to the team, plus the school is on probation for four years.
Some had pushed for their state titles to be stripped, including the one they got over Kamiakin from Kennewick a few years ago, but the WIAA stopped short of that.
The lawsuit, which names the WIAA and the Bellevue School District, seeks only to have the sanctions overturned. Critics say that defeats the purpose of having rules and regulations to prevent cheating.