Nick Rolovich WSU Football coach fired for refusing Washington State mandate to get COVID-19 vaccine. Had sought religious exemption. Forfeits $3M salary.
Four other assistant coaches — Ricky Logo, John Richardson, Craig Stutzmann and Mark Weber — have also been found “not in compliance” with the mandate, and the school has “initiated the separation process based on the terms of their respective contracts, effective immediately,” according to a WSU press release provided to PEOPLE.
The Cougars coach, who earned $3 million a year, had reportedly sought a religious exemption.
Going forward, defensive coordinator Jake Dickert will serve as acting head coach.
‘This is a disheartening day for our football program,’ Pat Chun, the athletics director at WSU, said in a statement obtained by CBS Sports. ‘Our priority has been and will continue to be the health and well-being of the young men on our team.’
‘I don’t think this is in my hands,’
‘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,’ added Chun.
Rolovich, 42, first disclosed his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine in July, revealing in tweet that he will not be attending a Pac-12 media day due to his decision.
Earlier this month, his mentor and former University of Hawaii football coach June Jones told USA Today that the Rolovich had ‘filed a religious exemption’ from the vaccine requirement on account of him being Roman Catholic.
‘He believes the way he believes, and he doesn’t think he needs it. It’s like I told him: It’s not about him anymore,’ Jones said.
Adding, ‘It’s about the people around you and the credibility of the university, and he’s got to take one for the team.’
Rolovich addressed his position with the school on Saturday following his team’s 34-31 victory over Stanford when he told reporters he was ‘waiting on an email’ regarding his religious exemption request. A request that was ultimately denied.
‘I don’t think this is in my hands,’ Rolovich said at the time. ‘I’ve been settled for a long time on it, and I believe it’s going to work out the right way.’
Monday had been the deadline for state employees such as Rolovich to either get vaccinated or obtain an exemption in order to keep their jobs.
In a statement, WSU president Kirk Schulz said, ‘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.’
Some Catholics have blasted the vaccine, because it is made using cell lines derived from aborted fetuses. But the Catholic Church itself – including Pope Francis – have backed vaccines, and urged worshippers to receive the shots.
Fetal cell lines are also present in everyday drugs such as Tylenol and Pepto Bismol.
Washington’s vaccination policy is one of the strictest for school employees in the country, as it does not allow for unvaccinated teachers and staff to be tested for the virus as an alternative.