Rantz: Photo shows WSU’s Pat Chun violating COVID policy after Rolovich firing

Oct 25, 2021, 6:18 PM | Updated: Oct 26, 2021, 5:10 pm
Pat Chun...
A Facebook photo of WSU's AD Pat Chun at a donor function. (Die Hard Cougs on Facebook)
(Die Hard Cougs on Facebook)

Nick Rolovich was fired from his head coaching job at Washington State University for failing to comply with Governor Jay Inslee’s COVID vaccine mandate. One of the men responsible for his firing violated campus and state COVID policies just days later.

Four days after firing Rolovich, WSU Athletic Director Pat Chun attended an indoor event for donors. In a photo posted to a Facebook page for WSU enthusiasts on Oct. 22, Chun is seen maskless in a small room. He is surrounded by other maskless attendees. This is in violation of Inslee’s reinstituted indoor mask mandate.

This isn’t good optics for WSU. It might explain why its communications director repeatedly deflected questions about the incident, even suggesting Inslee’s office is best suited to answer questions on what allegedly occurred.

Maskless at a donor luncheon

The photo was posted last Friday on the 30k+ strong Die Hard Cougs page on Facebook.

A member of the group, who was not the one to post the photo, noted in an email to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that it was taken at last Friday’s Coaches Luncheon at WSU’s Palouse Ridge Golf Course. The event is meant to convince donors to offer more financial support to the football team as part of the Cougar Athletic Fund (CAF).

Text accompanied the photo: “Pat Chun gets a standing O after a tough week. State that since Monday there has been over $3.5 million committed to CAF and that we have hit our goals so far in regards to the indoor practice facility. GoCougs!”

Chun is seen standing at the front of the banquet hall, which is owned by WSU but managed by a third party.

A WSU spokesperson did not seem pleased with inquiries about the photo.

An unhappy WSU spokesperson

WSU spokesperson Phil Weiler refused to directly comment on the photo or Chun’s choice to go maskless indoors.

Instead, Weiler noted that Rolovich wasn’t fired for refusing to wear a mask, but for refusing to abide by the vaccine mandate. This is correct. Rolovich asked for religious accommodation so that he can continue to work, as he did safely during the pandemic. He was denied by the school. Rolovich, through a lawyer, announced a forthcoming lawsuit.

Still, it’s objectively poor optics for the director who announced Rolovich’s termination to be seen violating a different Inslee COVID mandate.

Passing me off to Inslee

The school claimed it couldn’t accommodate Rolovich’s request, indicating campus administrators take COVID very seriously. Shouldn’t staff, then, abide by the indoor mask mandate?

Weiler insisted, via email, that “the university enforces all proclamations issued by the Governor’s Office.”

If that’s the case, how so? Why wasn’t this rule enforced with Chun? Had the school even contacted Chun to find out what happened after I inquired about the incident? Weiler refused to say.

“I’d point you to the Governor’s Office for details on the indoor mask mandate,” Weiler noted.

OK. Here’s the Governor’s office describing the mandate: “Under this order, every person in Washington must wear a face covering when they are in a place that is generally accessible to any person from outside their household, subject to specific exceptions and exemptions.”

It’s straightforward.

A clear double standard

There seems to be a clear double standard at play.

If WSU takes COVID seriously, they’d equally enforce the mandates. If Rolovich isn’t above the rules, why does it appear that Chun is?

Rolovich’s attorney claimed Chun had discriminated against him while employed, accusing him of “vindictive behavior.” You would think that WSU might want to better manage the appearance of disparate treatment.

WSU had the choice to accommodate Rolovich — which they had been doing this entire time. They chose not to. They could choose to enforce the rules with Chun. They appear, at this time, to be choosing not to.

Did you like this opinion piece? Then listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz  on  Twitter,  Instagram, and Parler, and like me on Facebook.

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Rantz: Photo shows WSU’s Pat Chun violating COVID policy after Rolovich firing