Washington State coach Nick Rolovich was terminated for cause Monday for a refusing to become vaccinated against the coronavirus, with the school announcing his firing.
Defensive coordinator Jack Dickert was named interim head coach.
“This is a disheartening day for our football program,” Washington State athletic director Pat Chun said in a statement. “Our priority has been and will continue to be the health and well-being of the young men on our team.
“The leadership on our football team is filled with young men of character, selflessness and resiliency and we are confident these same attributes will help guide this program as we move forward.”
Rolovich, 42, had filed a request for a religious exemption to the mandate that all employees in the state become vaccinated by Oct. 19, but his request — reviewed anonymously — was denied.
Rolovich was the only major college head coach known to refuse to become vaccinated, and Washington State University president Kirk Schulz, a career scientist, had been supportive of Gov. Jay Inslee’s mandate issued months ago.
Several of Rolovich’s assistant coaches were also unvaccinated and were also expected to be terminated. The Cougars, 4-3 this season, were 5-6 during Rolovich’s 1 1/2 seasons as Washington State’s coach.
Schulz said in a statement Monday, “While much has been made of the relatively small number of university employees who are not complying with the Governor’s mandate, we are immensely gratified that nearly 90 percent of WSU employees and 97 percent of our students are now vaccinated.
“WSU students, faculty, and staff understand the importance of getting vaccinated and wearing masks so that we can safely return to in-person learning and activities. I am proud of all those members of our community who have set the example and taken the steps to protect not just themselves, but their fellow Cougs.”
Inslee announced last week that more than 90 percent of Washington state government workers have been verified as fully vaccinated. Rolovich was the state’s highest-paid employee at $3.2 million a year.
Washington State won its third consecutive game Saturday, a 34-31 victory over visiting Stanford. The players gave their coach a Gatorade shower in celebration, aware that it might be his final game.
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