PULLMAN, Wash. — June Jones, longtime mentor of WSU head football coach Nick Rolovich and legendary coach, told USA Today on Saturday morning that Rolovich has applied for a religious exemption from Governor Inslee's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
“He and I have had six or seven conversations over the last 60 days, and my advice is for him to take the shot,” Jones told USA Today. “There’s too much at stake to risk losing his job, and it’s an unfortunate situation. It may be against what he believes obviously, but there are more people at stake – the university’s credibility, the lives of the assistant coaches and their families. There’s a whole bunch more at stake than just him, and that’s exactly what I told him.”
Rolovich confirmed the news during a postgame press conference after WSU's win over Oregon State. He said he's "not terribly happy" with the way the news came out and that he hopes no player he coaches has to wake up to the news he woke up to on Saturday. Rolovich added that he has not received a response from the university about his religious exemption request.
Jones coached Rolovich at Hawaii in 2000 and 2001. Rolovich also was a student-assistant under Jones at Hawaii in 2003 and 2004. He is the highest paid employee in the state of Washington, with his salary last year being $3,195,500.
According to the article, Rolovich has not told Jones his reasoning behind not wanting to get vaccinated.
“He believes the way he believes, and he doesn’t think he needs it. It’s like I told him: It’s not about him anymore. It’s about the people around you and the credibility of the university, and he’s got to take one for the team," said Jones.
The deadline to be fully vaccinated by the state is Oct. 18.
Below is the process is how the exemption process will work at WSU and how Rolovich may still lose his job even if his exemption is approved:
WHAT IS WSU'S EXEMPTION PROCESS?
According to a WSU spokesperson, every employee evaluation will be blind so the people reviewing the exemption application will not know who they are reviewing it for. Every exemption application will also be reviewed by at least two people.
WHAT HAPPENS IF EXEMPTION IS DENIED?
If Rolovich has filed an exemption and is denied, and he refuses to get vaccinated, then he will be terminated. The big thing here is if the university says they fired him with cause, they won't owe him any money. The way his contract is worded, it is believed they could fire him with cause.
WHAT HAPPENS IF EXEMPTION IS APPROVED?
If Rolovich applies for an exemption and it gets approved, he could still end up getting let go.
That's because Rolovich's advisor, Athletic Director Pat Chun, then has to determine Rolovich can actually do his job if he is not vaccinated. Rolovich obviously operates in a job with a lot of face to face and close interaction. Chun could say that Rolovich can't fulfill his responsibilities if he is not vaccinated. He may say Rolovich can. We just don't know. Of course, HR will most likely also be involved in this process.
WHAT HAPPENS IF ROLOVICH GETS THE VACCINE LATE?
If Rolovich has applied for an exemption and gets denied, but decides he wants to take the shot, he will have to take unpaid leave until he is fully vaccinated.