Washington State coach Nick Rolovich faces decision on getting COVID-19 vaccine

By | August 18, 2021

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Wednesday that all school employees in the state must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18 as a condition of employment.

“Individuals who refuse to get vaccinated will be subject to dismissal,” Inslee said. Only those with “legitimate medical reasons” or “sincerely held religious beliefs” will be exempt.

If Washington State football coach Nick Rolovich doesn’t claim either of those reasons, then he will have a decision to make: get vaccinated or lose his job.

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Rolovich announced July 21 that he was not vaccinated and therefore would not attend the Pac-12’s football Media Days — which required attendees to be vaccinated. He was the only Pac-12 head coach to attend the event virtually.

“I have elected not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine for reasons which will remain private,” Rolovich wrote in a statement on Twitter at the time. “While I have made my own decision, I respect that every individual — including our coaches, staff and student-athletes — can make his or her own decision regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. I will not comment further on my decision.” 

Just a week after his Twitter statement, Rolovich said in a Zoom interview that he would follow Washington State’s policies for unvaccinated individuals.

“I plan on adhering to all policies that are implemented for the unvaccinated at the state, local and conference levels,” Rolovich said. “I’m not against vaccinations and I wholeheartedly support those who choose to be vaccinated.”

It’s unclear what Rolovich will do now that Inslee has issued a mandate. The coach has yet to respond to the announcement. He was noncommittal when he was asked at a press conference Aug. 9 whether he would get the vaccine if Inslee issued an order.

“We’re doing everyday testing. We’re following all the rules that are put in place. I don’t know what exactly he’s going to say, but it’s something definitely to always consider,” Rolovich said.

Washington State’s athletic department, meanwhile, said in a statement it would “work to ensure the mandates in the Governor’s Proclamation are followed.”

“We applaud the efforts of Governor Inslee to protect the health and safety of the people of Washington,” the department said, per KREM.com. “Washington State Athletics, including staff, coaches and student-athletes, will continue to follow all campus, local, state, Pac-12 and NCAA guidelines related to health and safety surrounding COVID-19 and we will work to ensure the mandates in the Governor’s Proclamation are followed.”