Former Washington State football coach Nick Rolovich plans to sue the school over his termination for defying a COVID-19 vaccine mandate and is calling out athletic director Pat Chun for ‘discriminatory and vindictive behavior.’
WSU fired Rolovich and four of his assistant coaches Monday, which was the deadline for all state employees to comply with Governor Jay Inslee’s vaccine mandate. Because Chun fired Rolovich ‘for cause,’ the school was able to void the remainder of his $3million-a-year contract that runs through 2025.
Rolovich had applied for, and was denied, a religious exemption based on his ‘devout’ Catholic faith, according to a statement provided to DailyMail.com by his attorney, Brian Fahling. The school has not publicly confirmed that information.
New Washington State football coach Nick Rolovich, center, is introduced by Washington State Athletic Director Pat Chun, left, and Washington State President Kirk Schulz during a press conference on Thursday, January 26, 2020 in Pullman, Washington. On Wednesday, Rolovich accused Chun of ‘discriminatory and vindictive behavior’
WSU judged exemption requests with a two-person panel using a blind evaluation process that omitted applicants’ names and job titles, according to the school.
According to Fahling, though, Chun planned to fire Rolovich as early as April — four months before the vaccine mandate took effect.
‘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,’ Fahling wrote in his statement.
‘Chun’s discriminatory and vindictive behavior has caused immeasurable harm to Coach Rolovich and his family.’
Crowd Management Staff security employees Myrladis Lopez, front right, and Jacqueline Barajas, top right, check for proof of COVID-19 vaccination of Vince Johnson, left, and his wife Marci Johnson before they were allowed to enter Martin Stadium before an NCAA college football game between Washington State and Oregon State on October 9
Crowd Management Staff security employee Myrladis Lopez, left, checks for proof of COVID-19 vaccination of women’s basketball team director of player personnel and program analytics Deb Patterson before being allowed to enter Martin Stadium
Fahling also claimed to know that, even if Rolovich’s exemption request been accepted, he still would have been fired.
‘The institution also indicated that even if the exemption had been granted, no accommodation would have been made,’ Fahling wrote.
Rolovich was not given a chance to address his team before his firing, and was quickly escorted off the premises by police, according to Fahling.
‘Immediately after terminating Coach Rolovich, WSU Athletic Director, Pat Chun, directed campus police to escort the coach to his car, he wasn’t allowed into his office, and he was not even allowed to speak to his team,’ Fahling wrote.
A school spokesperson declined to comment to DailyMail.com, instead referring any questions to Monday’s statement from Rolovich’s firing.
Then-Washington State head coach Nick Rolovich, center, stands with his players before their NCAA college football game against Stanford on Saturday in Pullman, Washington
WSU president Kirk Schulz said in his statement on Monday that less than 50 of 10,000 school employees were fired for refusing to get vaccinated, including Rolovich and assistants Craig Stutzmann (co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks), Mark Weber (offensive line), Ricky Logo (defensive tackles) and John Richardson (cornerbacks).
Across Washington, about 1,800 state workers were fired, resigned, or retired due to the mandate, according to officials.
‘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,’ Schultz said.
A former quarterback who played in the World Football League, Rolovich had a three-year stint as Hawaii’s head coach before signing with WSU in 2020. His total record with the Cougars was 5-6
‘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.’
‘This is a disheartening day for our football program,’ Chun said in his 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.’
A former quarterback who played in the World Football League and the Arena Football League, Rolovich had a three-year stint as Hawaii’s head coach before signing with WSU in 2020.
His total record with the Cougars was 5-6.
Rolovich is currently facing a lawsuit from ex-WSU receiver Kassidy Woods, who claims he was booted from the Cougars for complaining about COVID-19 exposure and joining the WeAreUnited player movement aimed at addressing the pandemic-related concerns of college athletes. The group also sought to push the NCAA and its member schools to allow players to earn a profit off their respective sports.
Nick Rolovich had applied for, and was denied, a religious exemption based on his ‘devout’ Catholic faith, according to a statement provided to DailyMail.com by his attorney, Brian Fahling. The school has not publicly confirmed that information