WIAA lifts Bellevue football’s postseason ban, strips two state titles

The Wolverines will be eligible for the playoffs this season, but they’ll have to vacate the state titles won in the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association on Monday voted to lift the postseason ban on the Bellevue High School football team.

The vote, which took place at an Executive Board meeting in Renton, makes the Wolverines eligible for the playoffs this season.

“The Board recognized that there has been a culture shift at Bellevue High School with the changes that have been made to that program,” WIAA executive director Mike Colbrese said in a statement. “The change in sanctions is an effort to the address the institution that was responsible for the violations committed.”

The WIAA also announced that Bellevue will vacate its playoff results from the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons, citing a lack of “institutional control.” The 2012 and 2013 teams won state titles, beating Eastside Catholic. The 2014 team finished second to Eastside Catholic. The 2012 and 2013 titles will remain vacated, meaning no school can call itself the Class 3A state football champion for those years.

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The postseason ban was part of the sanctions placed on the program after multiple investigations found violations of WIAA rules regarding recruiting and out-of-season coaching. Those investigations came in the wake of a series of articles in The Seattle Times detailing the violations.

Colbrese said the Executive Board voted to end the ban to avoid punishing players that did not benefit from the violations.

“One of the tenets of the association’s penalty structure is to punish student participation as a last resort,” said Colbrese, noting that most of this season’s players weren’t yet in high school when the violations occurred.

With violations such as these, the WIAA seeks to punish the institution and the students who benefited from them, hence the stripping of the titles.

Calls and messages to Bellevue School District officials seeking comment were not immediately returned.

Bellevue is 3-1 through its non-league slate (playing four games against ranked foes) and was ranked No. 9 in The Seattle Times state football rankings last week. The Wolverines beat Class 2A No. 1 Archbishop Murphy 35-21 on Friday.

The Wolverines originally were banned for four seasons, which was reduced to two seasons in August 2016. Playing a…

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