Washington State Fires Nick Rolovich After Being Denied Vaccination

Washington State University fired its soccer coach, Nick Rolovich, and four of his assistants on Monday for failing to comply with state regulations. Covid-19 vaccination mission, making Rolovich one of the nation’s most famous civil servants to lose his job for refusing to be vaccinated.

Rolovich’s firing ends a months-long period between the state’s highest-paid employees and its most powerful political leaders, mirroring the confrontations that have played out across the country as coronavirus pandemic extends into second year.

“I just want to emphasize: People have made a choice, and they have months to make that choice,” Washington State University president Kirk Schulz said at a news conference Monday night. “This isn’t something that just popped up out of nowhere.”

In fact, Schulz said, the athletic department held education seminars and the athletic director, Pat Chun, who hired Rolovich, spoke several times with the coach about his stance. .

This month, Rolovich applied for a religious exemption from duty, one of the strictest in the country.

The waiver is temporarily approved by a committee that conducts a blind assessment – without knowing the applicant’s name or department. But then, Chun, in consultation with human resources and environmental health and safety officials, to determine if the coach could perform his job duties without endanger the public or not. Chun said Rolovich’s request for accommodation was denied without specifying.

The second is the deadline Governor Jay Inslee set for state workers to be fully vaccinated or receive a religious or medical exemption that allows them to continue their work. A state agency report from earlier this month found that about 90% of public employees who will be affected by the mandate have been vaccinated.

Earlier in the day, a Superior Court judge denied requests from hundreds of Washington State Patrol soldiers, repairmen, ferry workers and other public officials for a temporary restraining order. authorization of Inslee, although the lawsuit they filed may still be continued.

Rolovich, 42, in the second year of a five-year, $15.6 million contract, has become the face of a confrontation with Inslee, who has repeatedly said there will be no exceptions. Rolovich was advised by June Jones, whom he played as a quarterback and coached in Hawaii, to get vaccinated. And Jack Thompson, the star Washington State defender from the late 1970s, has had many heart-to-heart conversations with him.

Rolovich could lose more than $9 million because Washington fired him. He has two weeks to file an appeal with a college committee.

Chun said Monday’s biggest losers were the players, who have dealt with the volatility of the pandemic and will now play for their third coach – defensive coordinator, Jake Dickert , was appointed interim coach – for three seasons.

“It’s been a tough day for Washington State football,” said Chun. “No one wants to be here. I have a lot of sympathy for the young men in that dressing room.”

Rolovich’s resistance frustrated school leaders, including Schulz, who strongly encouraged students to get vaccinated. Fans at the last two home games are required to present proof of vaccinations or a recent negative coronavirus test for admission, a policy the university has developed in conjunction with the University. Washington and the Seattle Seahawks.

Beginning next month, unvaccinated Washington State students will not be allowed to sign up for classes in the spring semester.

“Certainly we’ve been told over and over again in the national media about Coach Rolovich’s specific views on vaccines and his personal decision whether to get vaccinated,” Schulz said. or not. “I would be naive to say that this has not affected the perception of Washington State University with prospective students, with sponsors, with so many people around.”

As Monday approached, the deadline drama intensified – fueled in part by the Cougars’ three-match winning streak, giving them a 4-3 aggregate record with five games remaining and keeping them competitive. Pac-12 Conference North Division tournament. position. The team is scheduled to have a home game against Brigham Young on Saturday.

The players have firmly backed Rolovich, especially midfielder Jayden de Laura, who has defended his coach impatiently. Several Cougars made Rolovich a carton of sports drinks after Saturday night’s sensational comeback win over Stanford.

“Overall, we don’t have a problem with Rolo,” de Laura said after the win over Oregon State. “I love him. I love him to death. I would do anything for him.”

The players were briefed on the game on Monday night, when they were summoned to a mandatory meeting by Chun. Also losing his job was the offensive team coach, Mark Weber; Defensive Line Coach, Logo Ricky; full-back coach, John Richardson; and the quartet’s coach, Craig Stutzmann. Stutzmann’s brother, Billy Ray, was fired from his position as an assistant coach at the Navy last month for refusing to get vaccinated. Richardson is the Washington State recruitment coordinator.

According to Schulz, the coaches are among the fewer than 50 staff members at the university (out of nearly 10,000) with whom the school has begun the termination process. Chun said he doesn’t know how many other sports members are in that group.

With five coaches gone, it is not yet clear if they will be replaced immediately. Chun said on Monday night that he was looking at the possibility of a replacement he hopes to have by midweek, but admitted it won’t be easy to find coaches familiar with the offense. the crime the team used – Run and Shoot, a scheme that became popular in the 1980s but largely fell out of favor.

One practitioner of the offense, Jones, a former head coach at Hawaii and Southern Methodist, said in an interview Monday that he has not been contacted about joining the Cougars staff.

However, Jones said he has spoken to Rolovich in recent weeks and has exchanged messages with him this week.

“I just think he’s like a lot of people who haven’t been vaccinated,” Jones said. “They don’t want to be told what to do.”

In July, Rolovich said he would not be vaccinated, calling it a personal decision and refusing repeatedly for the past three months to better explain his decision.

He remained steadfast in his stance even after Inslee, a Democrat serving his third term as governor, issued his executive order in mid-August allowing state workers to comply. almost two months. After the Cougars beat Oregon State on October 9, Rolovich confirms USA Today Newspaper that he had applied for a religious exemption.

When asked if the approaching assignment deadline made him uncomfortable, Rolovich said: “You think it was a good time? Of course it’s hard for everyone. Players are going through some of the same things. I think it’s an incredible stress, especially young people. So that they can stay focused and keep giving each other, and this show is pretty special. ”

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/18/sports/ncaafootball/nick-rolovich-fired-covid-vaccine-mandate.html Washington State Fires Nick Rolovich After Being Denied Vaccination

Dustin Huang

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