Five Washington State University football coaches were fired on Monday after refusing to get vaccinated for COVID-19, including head coach Nick Rolovich.
Monday was the deadline for state employees in Washington to be vaccinated or receive a medical or religious exemption. That's when Rolovich and assistant coaches Ricky Logo, John Richardson, Craig Stutzmann, and Mark Weber got the boot.
"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."
Last week, Rolovich's former coach spilled the beans to USA Today that Rolovich was seeking a religious exemption from the vaccine mandate, a fact that Rolovich had not previously revealed.
He later confirmed the report, albeit reluctantly.
"I'm not terribly happy with the way it happened," Rolovich said. "I hope there is no player I coached that has to wake up and feel the way I felt today."
He also said on Saturday after beating Stanford 34-31 that he was "waiting on an email" for a response to his exemption request.
"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."
Rolovich was getting $3 million per year at WSU.
That's a lot of dough.
The Oregonian reports that "the vaccine issue has percolated all season, dividing Washington State fans and providing a continual distraction."
"Stop hating on Rolo. We love him," quarterback Jayden de Laura said on Saturday.
"He's a coach we all love to play for," wide receiver Travell Harris also said on Saturday.
The New York Times also reported on the apparent "discord on Washington State" just last week. WSU president Kirk Schulz told NYT that "it doesn't help when you have people who are contrary to the direction we're going."
"It certainly skews the perception of our message," Schulz told the New York Times. "At most universities, people pay attention to what the university president, the football coach, the basketball coach and the athletic director have to say -- that's just the reality. People look at them for leadership because they're highly visible and highly compensated."
Defensive coordinator Jake Dickert will act as WSU head coach for now.
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