By Jack Davis October 19, 2021 at 9:44am
A Democratic governor’s vaccine mandate has resulted in one of America’s top football coaches being fired.
Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington in August imposed a coronavirus vaccine mandate on state employees, with a deadline of Monday.
Washington State University head football coach Nick Rolovich, who had said repeatedly that he would not get vaccinated against the coronavirus, was given the ax once the deadline passed, according to ESPN.
Four assistant coaches who were not vaccinated were also fired: Ricky Logo, John Richardson, Craig Stutzmann and Mark Weber.
“I just want to emphasize: People made a choice, and they had months to make that choice,” Washington State President Kirk Schulz said Monday, according to The New York Times. “This wasn’t something that just all of a sudden popped up.”
Defensive coordinator Jake Dickert will be the interim head coach of the Cougars, who are 4-3 after having won their last three games.
“The noncompliance with this requirement renders [Rolovich] ineligible to be employed at Washington State University and therefore can no longer fulfill the duties as a head coach of our football program effective immediately,” Washington State athletic director Pat Chun said Monday.
“It is disheartening to be here today. Our football team is hurting. Our WSU community is fractured. Today will have a lasting impact on the young men on our team and the remaining coaches and staff,” Chun said.
On Monday, a Superior Court judge rejected an effort by troopers, corrections officers and other public workers to obtain a temporary injunction that would block imposition of the vaccine mandate.
Would you give up a $3 million salary to avoid a COVID vaccination?
Washington State is getting tough about vaccinations. Unvaccinated students will not be allowed to register for spring term classes next month.
“Certainly we’ve been in the national media again and again and again over Coach Rolovich’s particular stance on vaccines and his personal decision whether or not to be vaccinated,” Schulz said. “It would be naïve of me to say this wasn’t affecting the perception of Washington State University with prospective students, with donors, with lots of people around.”
Rolovich will lose his annual salary of more than $3 million in a contract that ran through 2025, which the state now considers the coach to have broken.
The 42-year-old coach said in July that he was opposed to vaccinations but in August indicated he would comply with Inslee’s mandate, according to CBS News. He later applied for a religious exemption. Chun said Monday that Rolovich’s accommodation request was denied.
The decision drew debate on Twitter.
Washington State never has had a viable football team, now they can continue that legacy after firing Nick Rolovich mid-season. WSU big shots aren’t that smart–feed ’em to Butch!!! Feed Jay Inslee to Butch too. pic.twitter.com/wfsLnCEUKP
— S. Picard, Deplorable, Let’s Go Brandon!! (@PicardSa) October 19, 2021
WSU did not fire Nick Rolovich on Monday. The school was merely the vessel of dismissal, carrying out a state mandate designed to save lives and contain a pandemic. In reality, Rolovich fired Rolovich. https://t.co/4pWFKaedDL
— Seattle Times Sports (@SeaTimesSports) October 19, 2021
Nick Rolovich and his assistants really chose to give up on their players and coworkers because of the vaccine mandate. Like, I knew this was coming but I just can’t possibly fathom how stupid you have to be to choose this hill to die on. What a mess smh. https://t.co/qUBxQdWltX pic.twitter.com/EJNOhhE913
— Dugar, Michael-Shawn (@MikeDugar) October 18, 2021
There are coaches we cheer for who are womanizers, adulterers, have been caught driving drunk, I could go on and on.
Nick Rolovich got fired for refusing to get a vaccine.
Anyone else see anything absurd about that?
(And yes, I have the vaccine, since I know some will ask)
— Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres) October 18, 2021
Rolovich was told of his firing Monday, Chun said, and left without speaking to the players. Chun then told them what had happened.
“Their responses were what you would expect out of a bunch of college-age young people that lost their head coach and a bunch of position coaches as well,” Chun said. “That’s a very close-knit group. They handled it maturely, but without a doubt there’s a lot of disappointment, sadness, anger. It’s a room filled with over 120 young people, so it’s going to be the full spectrum of emotions. But they listened and they were all there.”
Rolovich was the only unvaccinated head coach in the Pac-12 Conference and wore a mask along the sidelines.
WSU quarterback Jayden de Laura was among those supporting his coach Saturday when he said, “Stop hating on Rolo. We love him.”
In a tweet on Monday, de Laura said, “Words cannot express our profound sadness and disappointment in the termination of our Coach, Nick Rolovich … we strongly disagree with today’s decision.”
— Jayden de Laura (@jayden_delaura) October 19, 2021
Cougars cornerback Jaylen Watson said in a tweet that Rolovich “changed my life in so many ways.. A real stand up dude that always stands on what he believes in heart was so pure and a true role model to me and my teammates. Was always bigger than a dollar sign which is the only thing you wrap your fingers around.”