Former Washington State coach Nick Rolovich to sue school after being fired for vaccination stance

Washington State v USC - Nick Rolovich
Washington State v USC - Nick Rolovich

Former Washington State head coach Nick Rolovich is suing the university for illegal termination. Last Monday, Nick Rolovich and four assistant coaches were fired after refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Washington state mandates that all state employees get the COVID-19 vaccine. The deadline to get the vaccine was Monday, thus leading to athletic director Pat Chun firing the five coaches.

This is the end of Rolovich’s coaching career…

Chun stated that firing Nick Rolovich and four assistant coaches was a for-cause separation. Rolovich, however, said the firing was because of "discriminatory and vindictive behavior."

What is Nick Rolovich's religion?

Nick Rolovich's attorney, Brian Fahling, told ESPN that his client had requested an exemption based on religion. The head coach is a devout Catholic. The university denied the request.

When asked about the denial, Chun and the university did not confirm whether the requests by the coaches were denied but did state that Nick Rolovich's could not be met. Washington State uses a blind evaluation process for exemption requests. A two-person panel that does not know the identity of the applicants makes the decision.

Nick Rolovich giving up a $3 million salary and one of the most coveted jobs in his profession so that he can put himself and people around him at heightened risk of dying. Really one of the worst decisions I’ve ever seen. All-time bag fumble, medical fumble, reputation fumble

Rolovich had named Chun in his lawsuit, claiming that the athletic director wanted to fire him in April, long before the mandates were put in place. The coach's attorney, Brian Fahling, said:

"Chun's animus towards Coach Rolovich's sincerely held religious beliefs, and Chun's dishonesty at the expense of Coach Rolovich during the past year, is damning and will be thoroughly detailed in litigation. Chun's discriminatory and vindictive behavior has caused immeasurable harm to Coach Rolovich and his family."

Pat Chun's defense is that Nick Rolovich and the other coaches clearly understood the COVID vaccine mandate and the consequences for refusing to get the jab. The athletic director said:

"We've had conversations that date back months. he was resolute in his stance and his right to make a choice. That choice did not put him in compliance with this proclamation from the governor, and that is why we sit here today."
Despite strong COVID-19 vaccine advocacy from Pope Francis and the Catholic Church, fired Washington State coach Nick Rolovich cited his Catholic faith in his application for a religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine.

The COVID-19 vaccination debate is not limited to college football and sports.

Pope Francis has encouraged Catholics and others to get the COVID-19 vaccine, calling it an "act of love." The Pope's statement might have Nick Rolovich at a disadvantage.

The coach was in his second season as Washington State head coach. The team is currently 4-3 and third in the PAC-12 North. Rolovich went 5-6 over two seasons with the Cougars and is 33-33 over his coaching career.

Edited by Jay Lokegaonkar
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