Bellevue football assistant coach drops lawsuit against WIAA

A former Bellevue High School assistant football coach has dropped his defamation lawsuit against the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association and others, the WIAA announced Friday.

The WIAA made no payment of any kind to obtain Jones’ agreement to dismiss his lawsuit.

Jones’ lawsuit against the WIAA, WIAA DIstrict 2 and the KingCo Conference, arose out of the investigation conducted in 2015 in the wake of Seattle Times news reports of potential WIAA rule violations by the Bellevue High School football program.

Outside investigators engaged by WIAA examined those allegations and related allegations, and, in August 2015, issued an extensive report.  In response to the investigative report, the Bellevue School District conducted its own investigation and, in May 2016, reported various WIAA rules violations, including violations of a rule that limits how much a coach may be paid to $500, unless approved by the school board.

Bellevue School District further self-reported that it had taken internal measures to discipline Jones and Bellevue head coach Butch Goncharoff for rule violations.

KingCo accepted the school district’s self-reported rule violations and issued sanctions, which included suspending Goncharoff and Jones for two years each.

Upon appeal, the KingCo Conference increased the suspension to four years. Later, District 2 clarified that the suspensions only applied to coaching in the KingCo.

Last summer, Goncharoff was hired as the head coach at Cedar Park Christian in Bothell, a Class 1A school that competes in District 1.

In August 2016, following the District 2 decision, Bellevue School District announced that it would decline any further appeals and accept the various Bellevue football sanctions, which included the coaches’ suspensions.

After that decision, Jones filed his lawsuit asking for damages and other relief purportedly arising from the investigation and sanctions process.  Earlier this month, after Jones had served the first two football seasons of his four-year suspension, the WIAA, District 2 and KingCo jointly agreed to lift Jones’ remaining suspension.  Following that decision, Jones dismissed his lawsuit against all three parties.

“We are pleased that Mr. Jones has dismissed his lawsuit,” WIAA Executive Director Mike Colbrese said.  “We also believe that the two-year suspension Mr. Jones served was appropriate given the conduct uncovered by the WIAA investigators and the school district.”

Jones’ decision is the final resolution to lawsuits brought against the WIAA following the sanctions being placed on the Bellevue football program.

In December 2016, a judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Bellevue football booster club. Last August, Goncharoff dropped his lawsuit after being hired by Cedar Park Christian.

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