PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University head football coach Nick Rolovich has been fired for not receiving the COVID-19 vaccine by the state's Oct. 18 deadline.
The mandate requires most state employees, health care workers and school employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18, 2021.
Under the state mandate, all those working at state colleges and universities are required to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The mandate covers public, charter and private school teachers and staff.
The mandate is currently one of the strictest in the country impacting thousands of workers. Employees could apply for a medical or religious exemption but there is no testing option, or a philosophical statement exemption option like it has for other required vaccines.
Rolovich applied for a religious exemption. It is unclear if Rolovich’s exemption was denied or approved but the university said they could not make accommodations for him.
Rolovich was the highest-paid employee in the state with a salary last year being $3,195,500.
In addition to Rolovich being fired, four assistant coaches were also fired: Ricky Logo, John Richardson, Craig Stutzmann and Mark Weber.
“This is a disheartening day for our football program," said WSU Director of Athletics Pat Chun. "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.”
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.
It is unclear who will take over as head coach of the program. It could be someone inside like co-offensive coordinator Brian Smith or defense coordinator Jake Dickert (both are believed to be vaccinated) or it could be someone from the outside.
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.
According to a statement from WSU President Kirk Schulz, nearly 90% of university employees are vaccinated.