PULLMAN, Wash. — During a faculty senate meeting Thursday, Washington State University President Kirk Schulz discussed the saga surrounding Head Football Coach Nick Rolovich’s COVID-19 vaccination status.
WSU Researcher Alan Goodman asked Schulz about what the school is doing to combat negative press coverage of the school that relates to Governor Jay Inslee’s vaccine mandate.
Schulz started off by talking about student and faculty vaccination rates being at around 95% but then he addresses the news coverage of Rolovich’s vaccination status.
“The major elephant in the room that has gotten the Seattle Times all excited is one individual who is in a very prominent position, that up until this day has not been vaccinated and has not talked to the media much about where that is,” Schulz said.
He said he has to treat everyone the same regardless of the position they are in.
“There's a lot of, 'Well you have to terminate somebody.' Well, am I willing to terminate a faculty member for the same decision? Am I willing to terminate a staff member for the same decision?” Schulz said. “So aside from the emotions of advertisers have worked really hard to not say a lot and if somebody says, well is Alan Goodman vaccinated, I need to say, ‘I don't know and that's not appropriate for me to talk about.’ So I understand the angst that's out there over Coach Rolovich’s decision, but at the same time I've tried to remind everybody, the community has done a fantastic job of vaccination and doing a really good job...and it's not as sexy a story as the football coach and his stance on vaccines.”
Schulz went on to say some of the news coverage has led to "multiple martini nights" but he didn't want to minimize the issue.
“We're going to try and be a little more aggressive and assertive about getting our messaging out there in the next month, but nobody wants to hear about being successful. They want to hear about the challenges,” he said.
Rolovich said back in July that he wasn’t going to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Since then, Governor Jay Inslee mandated all state workers, including teachers and coaches, get vaccinated or lose their jobs.
When asked about vaccines again following the announcement, Rolovich said he would “follow the mandate.” He has refused to clarify what that means.