The Bellevue High (Seattle) football team is reportedly aided through a “diploma mill” private school, according to an investigation by The Seattle Times.
The Times uncovered 17 instances of Bellevue players who attend the Academic Institute, a small private school which does not offer football, in the last seven years. Players attend the school for academics but are allowed to play football at Bellevue if they live in the proper district.
The Academic Institute has a monthly tuition of $1,750. The Times found at least three instances in which families of players attending the school were either given financial assistance by the team's boosters or didn't pay for the tuition themselves, a violation of state athletic rules. One family complained their son was told his scholarship at the Institute would be revoked if he stopped playing football at Bellevue.
Two former teachers told the Times the Academic Institute “doesn’t adhere to basic educational standards.” Players need a 2.0 GPA with no more than one failing class to compete athletically. One player who attended the Institute told the Times he took one class without a teacher, and the school's director gave him a book and test questions to study.
The Academic Institute was briefly involved in a athletic district investigation after the family complaint, but no one from the school spoke to investigators. The final report did not mention the Academic Institute. Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff was suspended two games for "improper out-of-season activities" and for providing money to a player.
Bellevue High is an extremely successful football program. They recently had a 67-game win streak snapped in the state championship game last December. The team has won 11 state championships in the last 15 seasons.