Former WSU football coach Nick Rolovich to file lawsuit after getting fired over vaccine mandate

Oct 20, 2021, 8:57 AM | Updated: 9:05 am
Nick Rolovich...
Former WSU head football coach Nick Rolovich. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Former Washington State University head football coach Nick Rolovich will soon be filing a lawsuit, after he was terminated for not complying with a newly-implemented vaccine mandate for state employees.

Nick Rolovich laments distraction created by his COVID-19 vaccine decision

Rolovich and four of his assistant coaches were fired on Monday night for their refusal to comply with the state mandate. On Wednesday, his lawyer Brian Fahling issued a statement to KXLY, labeling his termination “unjust and unlawful.”

“It came after Coach Rolovich’s request for a religious exemption from the vaccine was denied by the University,” the statement continues. “The institution also indicated that even if the exemption had been granted, no accommodation would have been made. As a result, Coach Rolovich will be taking legal action against Washington State University, and all parties responsible for his illegal termination.”

Fahling went on to allege that WSU Athletic Director Pat Chun harbored “animus towards Coach Rolovich’s sincerely held religious beliefs.”

“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,” he added.

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Past legal efforts challenging the state’s vaccine mandate have largely fallen short in court thus far. Most recently, a Thurston County judge denied a request for an injunction that sought to pause the mandate while a lawsuit played out, ruling that it was “not likely to prevail on its merits.”

Prior to his termination, Rolovich was the highest-paid state employee in Washington with a salary of $3 million per year. He was also the only unvaccinated head coach in the Pac-12.

Rolovich coached WSU to a 4-3 record this year and a 1-3 record in the shortened 2020 season, making the Cougars 5-6 under him overall. Prior to coming to Pullman to replace previous coach Mike Leach, he led Hawaii to a 28-27 record over four seasons.

710 ESPN Seattle’s Brent Stecker contributed to this report

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Former WSU football coach Nick Rolovich to file lawsuit after getting fired over vaccine mandate