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Bellevue’s High Roller

Post by Eric Williams on Sep. 27, 2006 at 8:27 pm with No Comments »
September 27, 2006 8:27 pm

Here’s my take on Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff being paid $55,000 by Bellevue football club boosters. I’m interested to know what people think about this, so let me hear your thoughts.

The word is out on Bellevue football coach Butch Goncharoff.

Exposing what probably was the worst-kept secret in the state’s high school coaching community, an investigation conducted by the Bellevue School District into possible recruiting in Bellevue’s football program revealed that a booster club is paying Goncharoff $55,000. The amount supplements the $5,600 salary paid to Goncharoff by the school district for his work during the season.

Bellevue School District officials, including superintendent Mike Riley, said they didn’t know the coach was being paid that much by the booster club.

This claim seems a bit disingenuous. It’s not like the booster club was hiding the fact it paid Goncharoff the money. A quick look at the nonprofit club’s tax filings clearly shows it is paying him $55,000 for his time spent with the Bellevue football team.

Goncharoff’s salary has sparked public debate, with people questioning whether Goncharoff should be paid that much, and whether the salary creates inequities – compared to other football coaches and to coaches in other sports.

The investigation – a look into alleged recruiting at Bellevue High that proved unfounded – led to the Bellevue School District asking the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association to survey high schools around the state about how much their athletic and activities advisors earn, and where that money comes from.

First, let’s address the booster club issue.

Booster clubs are non-profits created by supporters of athletic or other extracurricular activities to help supplement those programs. Booster clubs help athletic programs stay ahead of their competition by paying for new equipment, summer camps and traveling expenses, among other things.

As a nonprofit, booster clubs are required to submit tax filings to the Internal Revenue Service.

The problem is many schools that have booster clubs don’t submit tax filings, and aren’t being held accountable.

Keeping better track of booster club funds could help avoid situations like Goncharoff’s salary going unchecked by the Bellevue School District.

Goncharaoff’s salary is another matter.

Like most successful high school football coaches, Goncharoff no doubt works heavy hours preparing his team. He surely also works several months during the offseason.

The results speak for themselves: Bellevue won four straight Class 3A titles from 2001 to 2004.

The problem is Goncharaoff’s salary is more in line with big-time programs in football-crazed Texas.

According to a January report by The Dallas Morning News, the average annual salary for a high school football coach in Texas is about $82,000.

Plenty of high school coaches in Washington state are putting in the same time and effort as Goncharoff, but not making near as much money. Most consider coaching a labor of love, and a victory on Friday night as payment enough for that effort.

The question we need to ask is this: Have we come to a point where coaches should be uniformly rewarded monetarily?

Is that salary in the range of what Goncharoff is making? Or should we stick to the $5,600 stipend he receives from the school district?

Somewhere in between, perhaps?

High school coaches certainly have an impact on students’ lives. They promote things such as commitment, work ethic and unity that help prepare kids for the adversity they will face in life.

How do you put a price tag on that?

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