Thursday, January 20

WSU Head Coach Nick Rolovich Fired from $ 3 Million-a-Year Job Over Vaccine Rejection | College soccer

Washington state fired football coach Nick Rolovich and four of his assistants on Monday for refusing a state mandate that all employees be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, had set a Monday deadline for thousands of state employees, including the Cougars coach, to be vaccinated. Rolovich applied for a religious exemption, which was denied Monday, Washington state athletic director Pat Chun said.

“This is a tough day for Washington state soccer,” Chun told a news conference. “Nobody wants to be here.”

Assistant coaches Ricky Logo, John Richardson, Craig Stutzmann and Mark Weber were also fired for refusing vaccination. Chun said it may be unprecedented for a team to lose its head coach and so many assistants in the middle of a season.

“Our student-athletes are the biggest losers in this,” he said.

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

Rolovich was fired for good cause, which means the university does not have to fulfill the rest of his contract, although lawsuits are likely to be filed over the decision. The Washington State Department of Sports is currently facing a deficit of more than $ 30 million.

Across the country, many college football coaches have publicly advocated for vaccination, including Dabo Swinney of Clemson and Nick Saban of Alabama. Mississippi coach Lane Kiffin said not getting vaccinated would be irresponsible and bragged that his team was 100% vaccinated.

Unlike last season, when Covid-19 cases swept through major college football, postponing and canceling matches on a weekly basis, no matches had to be rescheduled due to an outbreak of the virus.

Rolovich said in mid-August that he intended to follow the new mandate requiring vaccinations for all state employees, 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 mandate. You have not specified your religious beliefs.

Chun said he met with Rolovich over a period of several months, but was unable to change the coach’s mind. “He was determined in his posture,” Chun said.

Rolovich needed to demonstrate a sincere religious belief that prevented him from getting vaccinated in his waiver request. The application was presented to a committee that reviewed the applications without knowing the names of the applicants. To continue training, Rolovich needed to receive the religious exemption and also for Chun to determine that Rolovich could do his job keeping the public safe. In addition to his coaching work, Rolovich oversaw a youth soccer program and participated in promotional and fundraising events.

Washington State President Kirk Schulz said nearly 90% of WSU employees and 97% of students had been vaccinated. Fewer than 50 of about 10,000 employees have applied for exemptions, Schulz said.

The vaccine issue has been leaking all season, dividing fans in Washington state and providing an ongoing distraction.

“There was a lot of frustration with such a prominent employee who chose not to get vaccinated,” Schulz said.

The players defended their coach as the season progressed. Quarterback Jayden de Laura told a bench reporter after Saturday’s win: “Stop hating Rolo. We love it.”

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

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

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