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Nick Rolovich out as WSU's head football coach

Rolovich applied for a religious exemption from Governor Jay Inslee’s mandate where all state employees must get vaccinated for COVID-19. His exemption was denied.

PULLMAN, Wash. — Nick Rolovich is no longer the head football coach of Washington State University.

Rolovich applied for a religious exemption from Governor Jay Inslee’s mandate where all state employees must get vaccinated for COVID-19. His religious exemption was denied by WSU. They said that they could not make appropriate accommodations for Rolovich if he was unvaccinated.

Per university policy, Rolovich was given the option to get vaccinated before he lost his job.

The university has used the example of a graphic designer as someone who could get an exemption and have their accommodations approved as that is a job where a person works mostly by themselves. Rolovich is obviously in a job where he interacts with hundreds of people every week, including players and staff. Another one of his main job responsibilities is fundraising for the school. Being unvaccinated would make interacting with donors difficult.

It is widely believed that the university will not have to pay Rolovich any money from his buy out because his firing is believed to be with cause. However, it’s also widely believed that there will be a lawsuit.

Defensive Coordinator Jake Dickert was named the interim coach. This is Dickert's second season at WSU. According to his biography on the team's website, in his first season with WSU the defense produced All-Pac-12 Conference selections. The team also led the league with eight forced fumbles and was fourth in rush defense. He has 14 years of college coaching experience and came to WSU after three seasons at the University of Wyoming.

Rolovich ends his WSU tenure with a 5-6 record overall. His team played four games in 2020’s COVID-shortened season and seven games before he was let go.

WSU Athletics also announced that coaches Ricky Logo, John Richardson, Craig Stutzmann and Mark Weber were also fired. 

Multiple leaders at WSU have issued statements about the firing. 

Here is the statement from WSU Director of Athletics Pat Chun:

"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. 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."

Here is the statement from WSU President Kirk Schulz:

“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. WSU students, faculty, and staff understand the importance of getting vaccinated and wearing masks so that we can safely return to in-person learning and activities. I am proud of all those members of our community who have set the example and taken the steps to protect not just themselves, but their fellow Cougs.”

Here is the statement from the WSU Board of Regents Chair Marty Dickinson:

“Experience is showing that vaccine mandates help motivate people to complete the vaccination process. WSU has worked diligently to ensure the health and safety of our students, facility, staff and communities, as seen in our outstanding vaccination rates. WSU leadership takes Governor Inslee’s mandate policy seriously and we are committed to complying.”

This is a developing story and will be updated when more information becomes available.

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