Story at a glance
- Former Washington State University head football coach Nick Rolovich is suing the school after he was fired on Monday for declining to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
- Rolovich had applied for a religious exemption but was denied.
- "Chun's discriminatory and vindictive behavior has caused immeasurable harm to Coach Rolovich and his family," Fahling said in a statement, referring to athletic director Pat Chun.
Former Washington State University head football coach Nick Rolovich is suing the school after he was fired on Monday for declining to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in violation of a statewide mandate.
Four assistant coaches were also fired for violating a mandate issued by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) that required state employees to complete their vaccinations by Oct. 18. Rolovich had applied for a religious exemption but was denied.
Rolovich joined the university two years ago and was under contract through 2025, earning around $3 million annually.
ESPN reported that Brian Fahling, who is representing Rolovich, contends the former coach's fate was decided by the athletic director Pat Chun prior to Inslee’s mandate.
"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 said in a statement, according to ESPN. "Chun's discriminatory and vindictive behavior has caused immeasurable harm to Coach Rolovich and his family."
Neither Chun or university officials immediately responded to the network’s request for comment.
"It is a tragic and damning commentary on our culture, and more specifically, on Chun, that Coach Rolovich has been derided, demonized and ultimately fired from his job, merely for being devout in his Catholic faith," Fahling added.
Rolovich said in a statement on social media in July that he "elected not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine for reasons which will remain private."
"While I have made my own decision, I respect that every individual — including our coaches, staff and student-athletes — can make his or her own decision regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. I will not comment further on my decision," Rolovich posted on Twitter.
Chun and university president Kirk Schulz said Monday the coaches were aware of the consequences for not complying with the vaccine mandate.
"We've had conversations that date back months," Chun said, per ESPN. "He was resolute in his stance and his right to make a choice. That choice did not put him in compliance with this proclamation from the governor, and that is why we sit here today."
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