Bellevue High coach pleads: 'This has been a setup since day one ... do not punish these kids'

BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Bellevue High School football coach Butch Goncharoff told the school board Tuesday that an investigation of the football program has been "a setup since day one" and he appealed that board members fight back against a conference plan to ban the team from postseason play for four years.

"You may not like, me," Goncharoff told the Bellevue School Board. "You may not like the football club. I can live with that. But do not punish these kids," he pleaded.

A committee of athletic directors from the KingCo Conference voted to ban the Bellevue High School Football team from postseason play for four years, according to The Seattle Times.

The athletic directors cited a preponderance of evidence that violations occurred. They had been tasked with reviewing the sanctions that Bellevue had proposed in the wake of an independent report that found wide-ranging rule violations.

Our news partner The Seattle Times first reported this story.

The conference also ruled that the Bellevue football program cannot accept any donations for four years including equipment, money and products from any outside entities.

Bellevue can appeal for that sanction to be dropped in the spring of 2018, the Times reported.

A recent, independent investigation found the Bellevue football team violated rules of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association that put certain players on the roster, giving the team an unfair advantage. The investigation also found boosters paid for student athletes to attend a private alternative school, and false addresses were used to make players eligible.

The Bellevue Wolverines Football Club had said it didn't violate any WIAA regulations but will work with the school district toward a fair resolution.

School District Superintendent Tim Mills said last month that some of the findings in the report "require immediate attention." He added that the district believes "in the importance of fair play and rules."

Late last month, the district released a letter it sent to head coach Butch Goncharoff that said it is considering terminating his employment for "repeated violations of District Board policies" including conflict of interest and interscholastic activities and "for your failure to be forthright and truthful with your supervisors and District administrators regarding the compensation you received from outside entities..."