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Lessons You Should Learn From This Football Team’s “Diploma Factory”

illicit money for high school players

(Flickr – Dustin Moore)

The storied Bellevue High School football program is familiar with being featured in the press, but it’s currently in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. An independent investigation concluded that the Bellevue football team and its boosters committed serious violations in order to build a juggernaut.

Specifically, boosters paid for student-athletes to attend a “diploma factory” private school, the Academic Institute, and false addresses were used to maintain eligibility for out-of-town players.

In light of these findings, Bellevue’s dominance on the football field suddenly seems very suspicious.

From front-runner to fraud

Bellevue High School has the premier football program in Washington, winning 15 state championships since 2001, including six consecutive wins from 2008 to 2013. Unfortunately, this unparalleled success on the field was made possible by the contributions of player who should never have been eligible.

In order to get around strict academic requirements at Bellevue, boosters paid for some student-athletes to attend an easier private school, the American Institute. Since that school does not have a football team, student-athletes are allowed to qualify academically at the American Institute and play for Bellevue High School. The investigation found 17 instances of this practice, most notably NFL Draft first-round prospect Myles Jack.

Football players at Bellevue took easier classes and some even falsified their home addresses in order to become eligible. In one instance, a student-athlete claimed to live in four different cities!

There were also allegations of boosters paying for housing costs for the families of student-athletes; however, the investigation was not able to prove these claims.

What’s next for Bellevue High football?

Bellevue High School has denied the allegations and questions the findings of the investigation.

If the school district is able to confirm these claims, Bellevue High football faces significant penalties and may even be forced to forfeit some of their state championships.


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About the author
Tom Johnson