Reports: Washington State coach Nick Rolovich fired for not getting COVID-19 vaccine as state mandate takes effect

Washington State coach Nick Rolovich has been fired with cause after he refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine, according to multiple reports. The Oregonian first reported the news.

Rolovich’s future as Washington State’s coach hung in the balance ever since the state of Washington announced a mandate for all state employees to be fully vaccinated by Monday. Rolovich, who revealed this summer that he wasn’t vaccinated, had said that he would comply with the mandate but never revealed how.

The second-year coach applied for a religious exemption to mandate but that was ultimately denied. A small percentage of state employees’ religious exemptions have been granted in the two-step approval process.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced in early August that all state employees would be mandated to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The state's mandate required an employee who wasn't granted an exemption to be at least two weeks removed from his or her second shot of a two-dose vaccine (or only shot of a single-dose vaccine) by Monday. That deadline meant Rolovich had to have gotten his second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or his Johnson & Johnson vaccine shot by Oct. 4 to be in compliance with the mandate's deadline.

Rolovich was the highest-paid employee in the state with a salary of over $3 million per season. He is the first coach at the top level of college football to lose his job because of a vaccine mandate. He has not publicly explained his reasoning for declining the COVID-19 vaccine despite myriad questions from media members regarding his refusal to get vaccinated.

His firing comes as Washington State is on a three-game winning streak after a comeback win against Stanford on Saturday. Rolovich said that he was unclear about his future after the win and had not heard from the WSU athletic department regarding his exemption application.

Washington State president Kirk Schulz said that no employee at the school would receive special treatment regarding the mandate. Rolovich announced that he wasn’t vaccinated in July when he was the only coach in the Pac-12 who didn’t attend media day in-person because of the event’s vaccine mandate.

The Cougars were 1-3 in Rolovich’s first season with the team and he finishes his WSU career with a record of 5-6. He was 28-27 in four years at Hawaii and the Warriors were 10-5 in 2019 before Washington State hired Rolovich to replace Mike Leach.

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