Washington State coach Nick Rolovich fired for refusing COVID-19 vaccine

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Washington State coach Nick Rolovich walks on the field after the team’s NCAA college football game against Stanford, Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, in Pullman, Wash. Washington State won 34-31. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Washington State fired football coach Nick Rolovich on Monday for refusing a state mandate that all employees get vaccinated against COVID-19, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the university had not made an announcement and no one was yet authorized to speak publicly about the decision.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, had set a deadline of Monday for thousands of state employees, including the Cougars’ coach, to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or risk losing their jobs. Rolovich applied for a religious exemption.

The 42-year-old Rolovich was the highest-paid state employee with an annual salary of more than $3 million. He had said he wouldn’t get vaccinated but wouldn’t specify his reasons. He was the only unvaccinated head coach in the Pac-12 and had worn a mask during games.

Rolovich was hired from Hawaii two years ago, after Mike Leach left for Mississippi State, and led Washington State to a 1-3 record in the Pac-12 in a 2020 season cut short because of the pandemic. Washington State has won its past three games and is 4-3 this season, including a 34-31 win over Stanford last Saturday.

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AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo contributed to this report.

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