Washington State Coach Rolovich Sacked for Refusing Vaccine | Sports News

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By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS, Associated Press

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) – Washington state on Monday fired football coach Nick Rolovich for refusing a state mandate that all employees get vaccinated against COVID-19, told the Associated Press someone familiar with the decision.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity as the university had made no announcements and no one was yet authorized to speak publicly about the decision.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, on Monday set the deadline for thousands of state employees, including the Cougars coach, to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or risk losing their jobs. Rolovich asked for a religious exemption.

Rolovich, 42, was the highest paid government employee with an annual salary of more than $ 3 million in a contract that runs until 2025. He had said he would not be vaccinated but did not did not specify his reasons. He was the only Pac-12 unvaccinated head coach and had worn a mask during games.

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Rolovich was hired in Hawaii two years ago, after Mike Leach left for Mississippi State, and led Washington State to a 1-3 record in the Pac-12 during a 2020 season shortened due to the pandemic. Washington State has won its last three games and is 4-3 this season, including a 34-31 victory over Stanford last Saturday.

Rolovich revealed in July that he would not be getting the shot and could not attend the 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 confirmed on October 9 that he was seeking a religious exemption from the warrant, but declined to provide details of his religious beliefs.

Rolovich had to prove a sincere religious belief that prevented him from getting the vaccine in his exemption request. The request was submitted to a committee which reviewed the requests without knowing the names of the candidates.

To continue coaching, Rolovich was to receive the religious exemption and also ask Washington state athletic director Pat Chun to determine that Rolovich could do his job while keeping the public safe. In addition to his coaching work, Rolovich oversaw a youth football program and participated in promotional and fundraising events.

The vaccine problem has pervaded all season, dividing fans in Washington state and providing continued distraction.

The players have defended their coach throughout the season. Laura quarterback Jayden told a secondary reporter after Saturday’s win: “Stop hating Rolo. We like it.”

Receiver Travell Harris praised Rolovich after the game for being a “player coach”.

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

After the victory over Stanford, Rolovich said he would come to work on Sunday and continue business as usual and expect to receive an email with a final decision on his status.

AP college football writer Ralph D. Russo contributed to this report.

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