State Watch

Former football player who opted out over pandemic concerns sues Washington State, coach

A general view from the field of Martin Stadium prior to the start of the 2019 game between the Stanford Cardinal and the Washington State Cougars
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A former Washington State University football player is suing the school and his former coach, accusing them of covering up COVID-19 cases on the team, USA Today reported Wednesday.

Former Cougars wide receiver Kassidy Woods, who recently transferred to Northern Colorado, filed suit against Washington State and head coach Nick Rolovich on accusations including a breach of contract and civil rights violations. 

According to the federal lawsuit, Woods got into a verbal confrontation with Rolovich over his decision to sit out the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The suit says Rolovich “responded not to Woods’ health concerns, but by asking if Woods was a part of the #WeAreUnited group,” a group of players involved in social activism.

When Woods confirmed that he was, Rolovich then asked him to clear out his locker, saying that his future involvement with the team would send mixed messages to his fellow teammates, according to the suit. 

Woods also had phone conservation with Rolovich that he recorded after opting out from the team, which was later picked up by the media

“But, um, joining this group is gonna put you on a, on a  — that’s obviously, you know, you get to keep your scholarship this year, but it — it’s gonna be different. You know, if you, if you say, ‘I’m opting out ‘cause of COVID and health and safety,’ I’m good. But this group is gonna change, I guess, how things go in the future for everybody, at least at our school,” Rolovich said in the conservation. 

Woods says he has a sickle cell trait that increases his risk from exposure to the coronavirus, and that team personnel told Cougars players to keep their positive tests quiet. 

“Not only were athletes already testing positive for COVID-19 without notification to other players, Woods’ own roommate had been exposed just two days prior to Woods’ arrival on campus,” the lawsuit says. “Woods’ roommate indicated to Woods that roughly 10 football players had tested positive at that time.”

USA Today reported that Rolovich also made headlines in July as the only Pac-12 head coach not to attend a media day in person over his opposition to the conference’s vaccination requirement.

Tags Coronavirus coronavirus pandemic COVID-19 Nick Rolovich Washignton Washington State University

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