The Bellevue football program continues to find itself in the spotlight, though now its for all the wrong reasons.
The Wolverines, long one of the most dominant football programs in the Pacific Northwest, have again come under attack from a special investigation by the Seattle Times, which allegedly found proof of widespread recruiting violations perpetrated by the school’s coaching staff. According to the Times investigation, these even stretched so far as the creation and funding of a top travel basketball team for a group of players who were all being targeted by Bellevue’s staff.
According to the Times’ Josh Liebeskind and Mike Baker, one prominent funnel of young talent in recent years was the Seattle Swish travel basketball program, which was set up by Bellevue assistant coach Jeff Razore. There are currently three different players who joined the Swish program before eventually following Razore to Bellevue and suiting up for the football team. While Razore may not have openly bribed the teens to attend Bellevue, his basketball program allegedly provided a willing funnel for at least four teens to receive benefits they wouldn’t be given if sticking strictly to school sports. According to the investigation, Razore provided shoes, uniforms and travel expenses for the Seattle Swish players.
He received funding for the team through his family’s nonprofit, W. Razore Family Foundation, which reportedly gave the Swish program $82,500 from 2012-14.
That’s a lot of cash to pump into a youth travel basketball program. Razore has denied any wrongdoing in connection with the recruiting allegations against him, though Bellevue head coach Butch Goncharoff and another assistant coach were banned from the first two games of the 2015 season in connection with recruiting findings against the school.
There’s oodles more troubling anecdotes about Bellevue’s practices right here. Needess to say, none of them do any favors to a program long considered one of the nation’s best, but suddenly perhaps one of the most brutal in overstepping its bounds.
In the meantime, Razore himself released a statement to both the Seattle Times and we here at USA TODAY defending his actions with Seattle Swish. You can read the full statement below.
“Community involvement, and particularly through youth sports, has long been important to our family, and we have been proud and fortunate to champion the success of several programs, including the Seattle Swish Basketball program.
Swish does not recruit for BHS football, Bellevue High School or any other high school. We strongly disagree with any characterization that the Swish has been used as a tool for recruiting to BHS. In the program’s 6-year history, incredibly few Swish players – less than 5 percent – have gone on to play BHS football, and of those, just one player was a member of an 8th grade team. We understand that those who have played have been deemed eligible by the Bellevue School District.
Importantly, for the more than 60 kids that have gone through the program, we have sought to instill essential life lessons like responsibility, teamwork, commitment, perseverance and family values. We know that our program does more than help kids’ athletics; many of our kids show improvements in grades, behavior and attitudes, as well.”