Booster club, parents file lawsuit to overturn Bellevue (Wash.) football sanctions

Bellevue football coach Butch Goncharoff

Bellevue football coach Butch Goncharoff

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A lawsuit has been filed in King County Superior Court in Washington asking the court to overturn sanctions against the Bellevue High School football program.  Currently, the Wolverines are banned from playing in the postseason for two years, plus Bellevue isn’t allowed to play any non-league games for two years and out-of-state teams for four years.  The team also can’t accept any support from its Bellevue Wolverine Football Club for four years.

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According to The Seattle Times, a lawsuit was filed Monday by the Bellevue Wolverine Football Club, plus football parents Jarret Johnson and Tami and Dinny Hansen.  Johnson’s son is an incoming freshman player, while the Hansens have a son who is a sophomore in the program.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA), KingCo conference, SeaKing District 2 and the Bellevue School District are named as defendants.

The Seattle Times reports that the 14-page suit states the sanctions are “arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to the facts and the governing Washington law.”

The lawsuit doesn’t seek monetary damage.  The plaintiffs are just asking that the sanctions be lifted.

In a written statement, Tami Hansen said: “We’re fighting to restore justice for our Bellevue High School Football program. We were unfairly targeted from the beginning, with an original investigation that was biased and fraught with error, leading to the sanctions for activities that, frankly, are par for the course across other districts. BHS football — and worst of all, our kids — have been unfairly targeted and penalized for past success and we’re filing this suit as the only recourse to be heard.”

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The school has distanced itself from the Bellevue Wolverine Football Club after an independent investigation determined that it had made nearly $600,000 worth of payments to head coach Butch Goncharoff over a 10-year (2002-2012) period.  The report say  a new booster club called the Bellevue High School Football Club has been formed and is working to raise money for the program, even though it can’t give the football team any money for at least two years.

School district officials had planned to fire Goncharoff, but instead placed him on administrative leave.

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