Washington State Fires Football Coaches for Refusing COVID-19 Vaccine

Carolyn Crist

October 19, 2021

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Washington State University has fired head football coach Nick Rolovich and four assistant coaches for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The university and the state set up vaccine mandates in August. Monday marked the deadline for state, health care, and school employees to receive a shot, according to CBS News.

"This is a disheartening day for our football program. Our priority has been and will continue to be the health and well-being of the young men on our team," Pat Chun, athletic director for the university, said in a statement.

"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," he said.

In July, Rolovich said he would not get vaccinated for "reasons which will remain private," CBS News reported. He also said he would request a religious exemption to the state’s vaccine mandate, but on Saturday, he told reporters that he was "waiting on an email" for approval.

"I don’t think this is in my hands," he said. "I’ve been settled for a long time on it, and I believe it’s going to work out the right way."

Washington State also fired four assistant coaches: Ricky Logo, defensive tackles coach; John Richardson, assistant head coach and cornerback coach; Craig Stutzmann, co-offensive coordinator and quarterback coach; and Mark Weber, offensive line coach. Jake Dickert, the defensive coordinator, will take over as the interim coach, CBS News reported.

The news comes as ESPN college football and basketball reporter Allison Williams announced that she would be leaving the network due to its vaccine mandate, according to NBC News.

"I have been denied my request for accommodation," she said in an Instagram video post on Friday. "Effective next week, I will be separated from the company."

The Walt Disney Co., which co-owns ESPN, announced in July that it would require employees to be vaccinated in 60 days, NBC News reported. Williams said last month that she decided not to "receive the COVID-19 vaccine at this time while my husband and I try for a second child."

The CDC has released studies that show COVID-19 vaccines are safe for pregnant women, those who are breastfeeding, and those who are preparing to get pregnant. But Williams said Friday that she was "morally and ethically" not aligned with a vaccine mandate.

"Ultimately, I cannot put a paycheck over principle," she said. "I will not sacrifice something that I believe and hold so strongly to maintain a career."

ESPN declined to comment on individual cases and accommodation requests.

"We are going through a thorough review of accommodation requests on a case by case basis, and are granting accommodation where warranted," the network said Monday in a statement. "Our focus is on a safe work environment for everyone."

Sources:

CBS News: "Washington State fires football coach Nick Rolovich for refusing COVID-19 vaccine."’

NBC News: "ESPN reporter Allison Williams leaving network over Covid vaccine mandate."

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