After being fired for failure to comply with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate issued by Gov. Jay Inslee, former Washington State head coach Nick Rolovich will sue the university for illegal termination, according to ESPN.
“Since at least last April, it became clear that [Washington State athletic director Pat] Chun had already determined that coach Rolovich would be fired,” Brian Fahling, Rolovich’s lawyer, wrote in a statement. “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.”
Rolovich’s application for a religious exemption to the mandate was denied. He and four assistant coaches on Washington State’s staff were fired for cause on Monday, when the mandate went into effect. Jake Dickert, the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, was appointed interim head coach of the 4-3 Cougars.
According to the release, Rolovich was not allowed to speak to the team after being fired, instead being escorted to his car by campus police.
Rolovich’s vaccination status was first raised over the summer at Pac-12 media days, when he appeared virtually due to being unvaccinated. He was coy about his reason for not getting the jab, but it was eventually confirmed that he would attempt to file for a religious exemption.
“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 Christian faith,” Fahling wrote.
The Seattle Times reported that, as of early September, only seven out of 3,891 religious exemption requests had received both approval and accommodation from their employer. Fahling’s statement alleges that even if Rolovich had gotten approval, he would not have been accommodated.
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