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Washington State football coach fired ahead of BYU game for not complying with state vaccine mandate

Nick Rolovich was reportedly fired because he has not complied with Washington’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Washington State head coach Nick Rolovich watches his offense a college football game against Utah Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Salt Lake City. Will Rolovich be coaching when Washington State hosts BYU on Saturday?
George Frey, Associated Press

Washington State head football coach Nick Rolovich and four of his assistants have been fired because they failed to comply with a state COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The Oregonian’s John Canzano first reported the news Monday evening, and the school later announced it.

It was widely expected such would occur Monday. Washington State plays BYU on Saturday at home.

“This is a disheartening day for our football program,” WSU 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.”

Defensive coordinator Jake Dickert will be elevated to the role of acting head coach. Incidentally, one of the four assistants fired, offensive line coach Mark Weber, coached at BYU from 2007-2012 and Utah State from 2013-2015.

Here’s some background on how the situation got to this point.

Washington COVID-19 vaccine mandate

Nick Rolovich and the vaccine mandate

  • Washington State Cougars head football coach Nick Rolovich has so far refused to be vaccinated.
  • Rolovich, who is Catholic, said he has filed for a religious exemption, but said last Saturday after Washington State beat Stanford that he had not received word whether his exemption had been granted.
  • “I think I’m waiting on an email, that’s as far as I know,” Rolovich said, according to Theo Lawson of the Spokesman-Review, regarding his future employment status.
  • Asked if he’d be willing to get vaccinated to keep his job, Rolovich said, “If that happens, you’ll be the first to know.”
  • Perhaps sensing what could happen this week, Washington State players doused Rolovich in Gatorade after the win over Stanford.

The BYU game

  • Last Saturday, Rolovich said, “I’m going to come to work tomorrow, going to get ready for BYU and we’ll grade this film. I don’t think this is in my hands, so I’ve been settled for a long time on it and I just believe it’s going to work out the right way.”
  • It was believed that a number of coaches on Rolovich’s staff have not been vaccinated, as multiple outlets reported that many of them wore masks on the sideline last Saturday. That is required for unvaccinated coaches, but not required for vaccinated coaches.
  • On Monday morning, BYU head coach Kalani Sitake had this to say about the situation: “I have been so into our season and our games that I haven’t even looked into that as much. I don’t think I know enough about it to even make a comment, to be honest with you. I got other things to worry about. I know coach Rolo, I know he is a really good coach, has a really good staff.I am not sure I am expert enough to comment on that.I am trying to get our team to get off this stinking losing streak, man. It is frustrating me right now. All my attention is on that.No, I don’t have enough bout that situation, appeals and all that. I think all my attention has to be on BYU football.”