Washington State University announced the termination of football Head Coach Nick Rolovich and four assistant coaches on Monday after the coaches failed to meet the state’s deadline to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Rolovich filed for religious exemption before the deadline of Oct. 18 but WSU athletic director Pat Chun told reporters the coaches could not be accommodated. After the Cougars’ victory over Stanford University on Saturday, Rolovich said he was “waiting on an email” for his exemption request.
“I don’t think this is in my hands,” Rolovich said. “I’ve been settled for a long time on it, and I believe it’s going to work out the right way.”
Ricky Logo, John Richardson, Craig Stutzmann, and Mark Weber were also terminated for declining to obey Gov. Jay Inslee’s proclamation that prohibits “any State Agency from permitting any Worker to engage in work for the agency after October 18, 2021, if the Worker has not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and provided proof thereof to the agency.”
While Rolovich was forced to skip PAC-12 media day because of his refusal to receive the vaccine, he announced he would comply in August, but never received the shot, forcing his termination.
Earning more than $3 million annually, Rolovich was the highest-paid state employee, and is to date the highest-profile coach to lose his job due to Covid vaccine coercion. Since he took over the team in 2020, the Cougars have gone 5-6 and are 4-3 on the year.
“Players, we have no issue with Coach Rolo,” de Laura said. “We have no issue with any of our coaches. We respect their decisions. I feel like it’s just the guys covering us, they’re trying to dig a hole on our Cougar football team.”
Chun said Rolovich did not speak to any of his players about his termination.
“This is a disheartening day for our football program. Our priority has been and will continue to be the health and well-being of the young men on our team,” Chun said in a press release. “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.”