Bellevue High School Football Team Gets Stiffest Penalty in State History
After decades of rumors about illegal payments to players and parents by boosters, use of fake addresses to allow transfers, and other illegal activities, Bellevue High School has finally been punished.
On the heels of a thorough investigation by the Seattle Times that lasted nearly a year, the Seattle-area King-Co League, or King County League, conducted their own investigation and has handed down what some say is the harshest penalty ever levied against a Washington state high school. Bellevue is a member of that league.
Newstalk870 recently ran a story about this ongoing investigation.
King-Co officials banned Bellevue from competing for the conference championship for the next four years, banned them from post-season play for four years, and prohibited them from competing against out-of-state schools for four years, and cannot play an out-of-league or non-conference game this fall.
Already, the powerful Bellevue Football Booster Club has enlisted the services of an attorney, saying there's no precedent for such stiff punishment, and it's too harsh. Officials countered by saying no other school has been accused of so many WIAA (Washington State Interscholastic Activities Association) violations. The WIAA also conducted it's own investigation with private investigators, and got the same results.
The two investigations showed over the last decade, dozens of players used fake addresses so they could legally 'transfer' and play football for the nationally ranked powerhouse. It also showed illegal payments from boosters to parents, in the form of cash to help with rent and other bills.
The team was also accused of having dozens of players attend a controversial 'diploma factory' to ensure their grades remained high enough to be eligible. Bellevue coaches were also accused of recruiting middle school players, encouraging them to attend the school, and boosters were accused of paying the tuition for players to attend that diploma-mill facility. School district officials were also accused of obstructing the WIAA investigation, even destroying records to impede the process.
Some believe the penalties were NOT severe enough, they said the school should have to forfeit their league and state championships in the years when evidence conclusively showed these allegations occurred.
Mid Columbia Conference schools have played against the Wolverines, namely Kamiakin High in Kennewick, who faced them twice in the state playoffs in the last 6 years, losing both games.