SEATTLE- An investigation of the Bellevue High School football program has found that boosters paid athletes to attend an alternative school described as a diploma mill, among other potential violations.
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association and Bellevue School District said in a news release Thursday that independent investigators found a series of potential violations in a six-month review.
Investigators found that Bellevue coaches directed athletes to attend the obscure Academic Institute in Bellevue and that coaches coordinated tuition payments. They also say false addresses were used to help players become eligible to play for Bellevue.
Jennifer Vice, the director of the Academic Institute, denied that her business had done anything improper.
"We've fully cooperated with the investigation. We haven't done anything wrong," said Vice.
Vice says the booster club did provide $15,000 last year. But she says that was earmarked for any needy student, not just football players. She says she was never pressured to use that scholarship money for players.
Students who attend a private school without a football team can play for a public school in their home district.
If the findings are confirmed, penalties could range from probation to forfeiting state championships.
In a press release issued Friday afternoon, a PR firm representing the boosters club accused investigators of "harassing" and "bullying" their members. The Wolverine Football Club denied any wrongdoing.