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Tuesday, April 24, 2007 - Page updated at 02:01 AM

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WIAA leaves coaches' pay up to schools

Special to The Seattle Times

AUBURN — An overwhelming majority of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association's Representative Assembly might have just handed Butch Goncharoff a hefty pay cut.

For now, however, "might" is the key word.

At the Representative Assembly's annual meeting at Emerald Downs on Monday, an amendment that could potentially limit outside pay and gifts to high-school coaches passed by a 49-4 count.

Fair or not, Goncharoff, the football coach who has led Bellevue to five state championships in the past six years, became the face of Substitute Amendment 12, which states that "Coaching stipends and all gifts to a coach exceeding a total of $500 in a season must be approved by the school's board of directors."

A school-district investigation into the Bellevue football program last year revealed that boosters pay Goncharoff $55,000 in addition to his coaching stipend from the district of about $5,600. The district, unaware of the pay, last fall asked the WIAA to look into putting limits on booster clubs' ability to pay coaches.

The WIAA elected to put that decision in the hands of school boards.

According to Sharon Howard, the Bellevue School District's assistant superintendent for human resources and legal affairs, the ruling could signal a big change.

Howard said that her district will make a recommendation to the school board, which will render a decision this spring.

"I believe the district position will be that the same rules should apply to everyone regarding donations and gifts," she said.

The district's current position is that certificated staff members (teachers and administrators) are not allowed to receive gifts of significant value. As a non-teacher, Goncharoff does not fall under this rule.

"It's the board's decision, but what we would like to see is everybody being treated equally," Howard said. "Any donations would have to go into the school's budget and you wouldn't be able to give extra money to a coach."

Howard also pointed out that under the existing rule structure, neither Goncharoff or the booster club broke any rules.

"Up to this point, there were no rules in place," she said. "Butch is an extraordinary coach and a wonderful man. He was working within the rules and the booster club did, too."

The booster club will comply with whatever the school board decides, said president Tom Castle.

"We've always been completely open and will continue to be so," he said.

One reason the booster club has given in the past for Goncharoff's pay is a desire to keep him at Bellevue.

"Our ability to support [Goncharoff] is up to the school board now," said Castle, who took over as club president this year. "If they won't let us do that, then I don't know what Butch will do."

Goncharoff did not return calls seeking comment.

"I think it's a healthy mix of balance between local control and state association assistance," said WIAA executive director Mike Colbrese, who said the WIAA discussed the idea of limiting coaches' pay rather than leaving it up to school boards.

Notes

• Students determined to have been recruited from one school to another will be ineligible for all sports for one full calendar year, under an amendment adopted Monday.

• The 2007 state volleyball tournaments will be held at the Kennewick's Toyota Center (2A, 3A, 4A) and the Yakima SunDome (1A, 2B, 1B).

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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