Washington State football coach Nick Rolovich, 4 assistants out after refusing state-mandated COVID-19 vaccine

PULLMAN, Wash. — Nick Rolovich is out as the Washington State football coach after refusing to become vaccinated against COVID-19, a requirement for all state employees, the school announced Monday evening.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee had set a deadline of Monday for thousands of state employees, including the Cougars’ coach, to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or risk losing their jobs.

Assistant coaches Ricky Logo, John Richardson, Craig Stutzmann and Mark Weber are also out, the school said, after not complying with Inslee’s proclamation that was issued in August.

“This is a disheartening day for our football program,” WSU athletic director Pat Chun said in a statement. “Our priority has been and will continue to be the health and well-being of the young men on our team. The leadership on our football team is filled with young men of character, selflessness and resiliency and we are confident these same attributes will help guide this program as we move forward.”

Defensive coordinator Jake Dickert has been elevated to interim head coach.

Rolovich, 42, had applied for a religious exemption to the vaccination requirement, but it is not yet clear how the university committee assigned to evaluate religious exemptions ruled.

Rolovich was the highest-paid state employee with an annual salary of more than $3 million in a contract that runs through 2025. He has been asked repeatedly for weeks to expand upon the reasoning for his refusal to get vaccinated but has declined to provide clarity.

“While much has been made of the relatively small number of university employees who are not complying with the Governor’s mandate, we are immensely gratified that nearly 90 percent of WSU employees and 97 percent of our students are now vaccinated,” Washington State president Kirk Schulz said in a statement. “WSU students, faculty, and staff understand the importance of getting vaccinated and wearing masks so that we can safely return to in-person learning and activities. I am proud of all those members of our community who have set the example and taken the steps to protect not just themselves, but their fellow Cougs.”

Rolovich was the only unvaccinated head coach in the Pac-12 and had worn a mask during games. He was hired in January 2020 after a four-year stint as the head coach at Hawai’i, where he compiled a 28-27 record, and led Washington State to a 1-3 record in the Pac-12 in a 2020 season cut short because of the pandemic.

Washington State has won its past three games and is 4-3 this season, including a 34-31 win over Stanford on Saturday.

Rolovich revealed in July that he would not get vaccinated and couldn’t attend Pac-12 media day in person because of it. He said in mid-August that he intended to follow the new mandate requiring vaccinations for every state employee but repeatedly declined to say how.

After refusing for weeks to reveal his plans, Rolovich on Oct. 9 confirmed he was seeking a religious exemption to the mandate, but he has declined to provide details of his religious beliefs.

Rolovich needed to prove a sincerely held religious belief that prevented him from getting vaccinated in his exemption application. The application was put before a committee that reviewed the requests without knowing names of the applicants.

To continue coaching, Rolovich needed to receive the religious exemption and also to have Chun determine that Rolovich could do his job while keeping the public safe. In addition to his work as a coach, Rolovich oversaw a youth football program and participated in promotional and fundraising events.

Players stood up for their coach as the season progressed. Quarterback Jayden de Laura told a sideline reporter after Saturday’s win: “Stop hating on Rolo. We love him.”

Wide receiver Travell Harris commended Rolovich after the game for being a “players’ coach.”

“He’s a coach we all love to play for,” Harris said.

After the victory over Stanford, Rolovich said he would go to work Sunday and go about business as usual and that he was anticipating an email with a final decision about his status.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2021 Indian Premier League - WordPress Theme by WPEnjoy