Fired WSU football coach suing school over illegal termination

Former Washington State University (WSU) head football coach Nick Rolovich is suing the university for illegal termination stemming from his COVID-19 vaccination status.  

Rolovich’s attorney Brian Fahling told ESPN in a statement Wednesday that his client applied for a religious exemption based on his Catholic beliefs but that it was denied by the university. 

“It came after Coach Rolovich’s request for a religious exemption from the vaccine was denied by the University,” Fahling said in his statement. “The institution also indicated that even if the exemption had been granted, no accommodations would have been made.” 

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“As a result, Coach Rolovich will be taking legal action against Washington State University, and all parties responsible for his illegal termination,” he added.

Rolovich, 42, and four other assistant coaches, were fired by the school Monday after they refused to comply with a mandate that requires state employees to be vaccinated against the virus. 

Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeVaccine mandates put unions in a bind Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Armadillo army takes over North Carolina town Washington redistricting commission fails, punts maps to Supreme Court MORE (D) had set a deadline that day for employees to be vaccinated or receive an exemption and accommodations from their employers, according to ESPN.  

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Fahling also accused WSU Athletic Director Pat Chun of determining that Rolovich would be relieved from his position before Inslee actually implemented the vaccine mandate, citing “discriminatory and vindictive behavior.” 

"Chun's animus towards 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," the statement said. "Chun's discriminatory and vindictive behavior has caused immeasurable harm to Coach Rolovich and his family."

Rolovich is among a growing list of prominent figures in sports voicing their hesitancy about the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The NBA’s Brooklyn Nets suspended star guard Kyrie Irving last week for the immediate future until he’s fully vaccinated against the virus. 

In a statement Monday, Chun said that Rolovich and the four other coaches had a clear understanding of the mandate and the consequences for not complying with it as well as education about the coronavirus vaccine, ESPN noted. 

"We've had conversations that date back months," Chun said. "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."

Washington State University declined to comment, referring The Hill to comments made on Monday.