Washington State Head Football Coach Fired Over Vaccine Mandate

Washington State University fired its head football coach, Nick Rolovich, this week after he refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine — as required via mandate for state employees.

Cougars defensive coordinator Jake Dickert will replace Rolovich as interim head coach, according to an NPR report.

“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,” WSU Director of Athletics Pat Chun said in an announcement. “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.”

washingtonIn addition to Rolovich, WSU brass has fired four assistant coaches — Ricky Logo, John Richardson, Craig Stutzmann, and Mark Weber — for failing to get fully vaccinated by Monday, October 18.

According to various reports, Rolovich was one of the state’s highest-paid employees, with an annual salary of $3.1 million.

During the summer months, prior to the Pac-12 Conference media day, Rolovich declined to be in appearance due to the requirement of attendees to be vaccinated, NPR reported. He issued a statement at the time explaining his decision.

“While I have made my own decision, I respect that every individual — including coaches, staff, and student-athletes — can make his or her own decision regarding the Covid-19 vaccine,” he said at the time. “I will not comment further on my decision.”

A report from local news channel King 5 said the former Cougars head coach did seek a religious exemption, but he did not qualify under the state’s rules for exemption.  Under the rules, according to NPR’s report, anyone whose job was public-facing, which involved direct care or put them in close proximity to colleagues couldn’t be accommodated in their current position. Regular tests or wearing a mask didn’t matter under those guidelines.

WSU President Kirk Schulz said in a statement, “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.”

To read the full report from NPR on Washington State firing its head coach, click here