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Debate: Are the parents to blame in the Bellevue football scandal?

An independent investigation found a series of potential violations on the Bellevue High School football program. (Image courtesy Bellevue Wolverines Facebook)

710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny O’Neil thinks the parents are misguided. KIRO Radio’s Jason Rantz thinks they are just doing their job.

There are plenty of opinions during the aftermath of an investigation that found the Bellevue High School football team engaged in potentially illegal recruiting tactics, but one common thread is a lack of shock.

“This has been, I don’t want to say an open secret, but I’m not surprised by the investigation,” O’Neil told Seattle’s Morning News. “I think that there’s a lot of different layers to understanding exactly what is going on.”

Related: Teen football player tackles suspected shoplifter

An independent investigation found a series of violations at the powerhouse football program, including that coaches directed athletes to attend the school, that boosters paid for athletes’ tuition, that false addresses were used to gain eligibility and that coaches coordinated tuition payments for athletes.

While parents aren’t specifically mentioned in these allegations, O’Neil says they would most certainly be involved in these violations and are also culpable.

“I think it’s terrible when parents get involved and start trying to tilt the playing field for high school sports,” he said. “I think the idea behind high school sports is pretty genuine if you get together and you play sports with the kids you grew up with.”

Rantz is much less critical of the Bellevue parents saying that, assuming the allegations are true, putting a student in the position to gain a college scholarship is a noble pursuit.

“Yes, they broke the rules to get them on the team. No, it’s not something we want to teach our kids as the right thing to do,” he said. “But, we would be lying if we said that there wasn’t at least a benefit to these kids.”

Rantz says he doesn’t blame the parents whatsoever.

“What is your main job as a parent? To do what’s best for your kid,” he said. “You cheat, you steal, you lie. You do what you can to give your kid a leg up because you want him or her on a path that maybe you weren’t on.”

O’Neil, however, says it’s misguided to think playing for Bellevue will be a ticket to free higher education, even if it’s a slightly more noble idea than parents creating super teams to win high school championships.

“If you’re a Pac-12 talent, you are going to jump off the page at recruiters,” he said. “They’re going to find you. And the idea that you need to move from wherever you live – Carnation, Concrete, etc. – to Bellevue so college recruiters will notice you; it’s absurd.”

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About the Author

Eric Mandel

Eric Mandel joined and 710 ESPN Seattle in August after almost a decade of reporting at daily and non-daily newspapers in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Washington.


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