Washington State football coach Nick Rolovich fired after failing to comply with vaccine mandate

Second-year coach Nick Rolovich and four assistants were dismissed by the Pac-12 program Monday.

10/19/2021 3:50:00 AM

Washington State football coach Nick Rolovich fired after failing to comply with vaccine mandate

Second-year coach Nick Rolovich and four assistants were dismissed by the Pac-12 program Monday.

Rolovich opened his Washington State tenure in 2020 by charming during a recruiting trip to Seattle. He had tweeted an invitation for fans to join him to chat at a pub, a gesture almost unheard of in the insulated world of college football coaching. He won further adoration during the pandemic when he supported local restaurants by buying dinners and offering them to the public.

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He also took heat when a former player, wide receiver Kassidy Woods, recorded a phone conversation with Rolovich in which the player wished to opt out of the 2020 season for health reasons and the coach said there would be “an issue if you align” with players’ rights groups. (Woods transferred to Northern Colorado.) Rolovich then came up shy of transparency in his refusal of vaccination as the public wondered and Washington State fans bickered among themselves over the issue.

AdvertisementStory continues below advertisementRolovich revealed his unvaccinated status when it was disclosed he would not attend Pac-12 football media day July 27 in Los Angeles, a meeting that required proof of vaccination. The conference’s 11 other coaches appeared from the podium without masks, but Rolovich spoke by video from Pullman. Two of his players, linebacker Jahad Woods and running back Max Borghi, traveled to Los Angeles. headtopics.com

As Rolovich spoke by video, he began by extolling his strength coach, reeling in the news of a player injury, reveling in “a ton of excitement for Utah State, our first game,” expressing gratefulness for having had a spring practice, noting “about 18 starters returning this season” and praising the “unwavering commitment from the players in our program,” saying he had been “impressed with their mental strength, with their focus on health and safety.”

Later, he added: “Now I have prepared a few written remarks to briefly address my statement regarding my decision not to receive a vaccination up to this point. The reasons for my individual choice will remain private. However, I want to make it clear I respect, I support all the work being done by the state of Washington, who as a state has one of the highest percentages of vaccinations in the country. ...

AdvertisementStory continues below advertisement“As I go forward, I plan on adhering to all policies that are implemented for the unvaccinated at the state, local, campus, conference level. I’m not against vaccinations. I wholeheartedly support those who choose to be vaccinated, including our players, staff, coaches.”

From the Palouse to the Smokies, Saturday told of a nutty land with a nutty week aheadAsked if his decision might discourage Washington State fans from getting vaccinated, Rolovich said: “No, I hope everyone makes their own decision and listens to everybody they need to listen to. That was not my intention at all.” He added, “I don’t mean to cause any heartache to this university or this athletic department or this state.” headtopics.com

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Just days later, Inslee issued his mandate, which required “all employees, on-site independent contractors, volunteers, goods and services provides, and appointees of designated state agencies to be fully vaccinated against covid-19 on or before October 18, 2021.”

In a statement that day, the governor said, “Getting vaccinated against covid is a public good. We have come so close to defeating this deadly disease. We have the tool — the vaccine — to get this era behind us.”UpdatedWhat you need to read about college football

Read more: The Washington Post »

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