Washington State University on Monday fired football coach Nick Rolovich and four of his assistants for refusing to get a state-mandated COVID-19 vaccine.
Rolovich and the other coaches had until Monday to get a vaccination as per Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s directive that state employees be vaccinated against the coronavirus or face losing their jobs.
“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 during a Monday night news conference.
“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.”
In addition to Rolovich, assistant coaches Ricky Logo, John Richardson, Craig Stutzmann and Mark Weber were also fired.
Rolovich was the highest-paid state employee, with an annual salary of more than $3 million in a contract that runs through 2025. Since Rolovich was fired for cause, the university does not have to honor the rest of his contract.
According to the Associated Press, Rolovich had originally said he would get the vaccination but in August he applied for a religious exemption.
Rolovich needed to prove a sincerely held religious belief that prevented him from getting vaccinated in his exemption application. The application was put before a committee that reviewed the requests without knowing names of the applicants.
The team’s defensive coordinator, Jake Dickert was named interim head coach. Washington State plays Brigham Young University on Saturday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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