Washington State head coach sought religious exemption for vaccination mandate, denied and fired.
The Washington State Cougars will have to rebuild their coaching staff in the midst of the season after five coaches were dismissed Monday for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Nick Rolovich, the football coach of Washington Legislative, was dismissed when he refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19 despite a state law that mandated it unless he was granted an exemption. Four assistant coaches, including defensive tackles coach Ricky Logo, assistant head coach John Richardson, co-offensive coordinator Craig Stutzmann, and offensive line coach Mark Weber, were all fired for not complying with the order, according to the university.
They and other state employees had until Monday to either get completely vaccinated or get clearance for an exemption in order to keep their employment.
Jake Dickert, the defensive coordinator who has been vaccinated, has been named interim head coach of a squad that has five regular-season games left, including a game against Brigham Young on Saturday.
WSU sports director Pat Chun stated Monday that “being at this stage today is wrong on so many levels and is anathema to the WSU experience our student-athletes so rightly deserve.”
“I’m sorry for the fracture that has occurred in recent months for our football alumni and all proud Cougs throughout the world. We must immediately begin the healing process by instilling compassion, understanding, and unity within our WSU community.”
According to USATODAY, Rolovich had requested a religious exemption in order to comply with the obligation. According to June Jones, his former coach at the University of Hawaii, he initially admitted that he was seeking such an exemption on Oct. 9 after it was disclosed that he had submitted an application for it and had not been vaccinated.
Jones claimed he begged with Rolovich to get vaccinated for the sake of his profession and the safety of others. Instead, Rolovich ignored that counsel and is now unemployed, capping a strange, self-inflicted professional decline that began less than two years after he arrived to the Palouse in eastern Washington with promise.
After ending 1-3 during the pandemic’s first season, his team is 4-3 this season after winning its past three games, including a 34-31 victory against Stanford on Saturday.
His WSU contract extended through June 2025, and it included provisions for him to be fired for legal reasons, such as failing to follow university standards.
Rolovich was sacked “for reason,” Chun added during a press conference on Monday. Because of the requirement, Chun added, “he’s not qualified to work here right now.” Rolovich did not go into detail about his religious reasons for refusing to be vaccinated. After coming from a Catholic household and attending a Catholic high school, he even refused to publicly clarify whether he identifies as Catholic.
Despite attempts to educate Rolovich and other staff on the vaccines’ safety and efficacy, Chun claimed Rolovich was “resolute” in his anti-vaccination stance.
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