‘Banished’ Bellevue H.S. Wants Government ‘Oversight’ of WIAA
I guess some parents, schools and coaches just don't get it. Less than 18 months after the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association slapped Bellevue with the most harsh penalties ever for a high school football program, now some team parents are saying they want the legislature to 'oversee' the WIAA.
According to The Spokesman Review Newspaper and other sources, the Washington State Legislature is considering some sort of oversight process to 'keep an eye' on the WIAA, especially when it comes to disciplinary actions.
The Bellevue Program, which won 11 3A titles between 2000 and 2013, was found to have committed multiple acts of cheating by the Seattle Times. The 2015-16 investigation showed multiple players had their grades propped up by attending an off-campus academic "institute;" players' parents had rent paid for them so their kids could move into the Bellevue School District, players addresses were falsified so they could be eligible; and now-fired Coach Butch Goncharoff was illegally paid over $100,000 for his services by the football booster club. It has since been disbanded and reformed. The school was also accused of "recruiting" promising middle school players, attempting to find ways to get them 'into' the Bellevue program even if they lived in another district.
The rumors had been present for years, some say the WIAA didn't REALLY act until the Seattle Time did it's thorough investigation.
These were among the most serious of the violations. Now, a group of player parents and coaches are trying to persuade the legislature to enact some sort of oversight committee on the WIAA. One parent said the association reacted to the Bellevue infractions by "hitting a fly with a hammer."
Some legislators appear to be sympathetic, saying the four-year postseason ban hurt players who were not involved in the cheating. The ban has since been cut to two. The team is also not allowed to travel outside the state, and could not play any non-league games outside of the SeaKing League.
Some are saying the penalties were 'racially' based, but both the WIAA and even some Times reporters say the infractions committed by Bellevue crossed all racial borders. It had nothing to do with race, but how good a player was and how badly the school 'wanted' them.
GOP Senator Mike Baumgartner of Spokane introduced a bill that would at least allow for a review or appeal process. It would allow schools penalized by the WIAA to bring their case to the government. But Baumgartner also cautioned he doesn't want the legislature to get into the "business" of running high school sports.
His proposed legislation never made it to a full vote in the State Senate, so no activity could happen til at least 2018.
Our take is, it has been proven Bellevue committed the most serious infractions in the entire history of Washington state high school football, regardless of classification (from B-8 through 4A). It appears some of the players' parents, boosters and even some coaches have not learned their lesson about cheating to win. Take and learn from your mistakes, and play by the rules like the rest of the public schools.