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State vaccine order could force out Washington State coach Nick Rolovich

Jul 27, 2021; Hollywood, CA, USA; Washington State Cougars head coach Nick Rolovich speaks with the media during the Pac-12 football Media Day at the W Hollywood. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 27, 2021; Hollywood, CA, USA; Washington State Cougars head coach Nick Rolovich speaks with the media during the Pac-12 football Media Day at the W Hollywood. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State football coach Nick Rolovich could lose his job if he fails to comply with a state law mandating COVID-19 vaccines for those working in educational settings.

Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday issued an order requiring everyone working or volunteering at levels from early learning to higher education to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 “as a condition of employment.” The order includes public, private and charter schools and applies to everyone from teachers to coaches to bus drivers to support staff.

“Individuals who refuse to get vaccinated will be subject to dismissal,” according to Inslee’s order.

Inslee also reinstated a requirement for Washington residents to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, effective Monday amid rising COVID-19 cases in the state. Washington recently broke the previous record for COVID hospitalizations set in December, per Inslee’s office.

The issue of Rolovich’s vaccination status came to light in late July when he made a virtual appearance at Pac-12 media days, barred from the in-person gathering based on his decision not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I’m not against vaccinations, and I wholeheartedly support those who choose to get vaccinated, including our players,” Rolovich said at the time. “I urge everyone to consider being vaccinated.”

He has not disclosed why he has chosen to remain unvaccinated.

Inslee’s announcement said there is no option to take COVID-19 tests instead of being vaccinated. There are “limited exceptions” someone working at an education facility can use to apply for an exemption, “including legitimate medical reasons and sincerely held religious beliefs.”

In a statement released after Inslee announced his order, the Washington State athletic department voiced support.

“We applaud the efforts of Governor Inslee to protect the health and safety of the people of Washington,” the statement read. “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.”

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Washington State went 1-3 in the abbreviated 2020 season, its first with Rolovich as head coach. The 42-year-old California native previously coached Hawaii to a 28-27 record from 2016-19.

The Cougars are scheduled to host Utah State to open the season on Sept. 4.

–Field Level Media