Nick Rolovich may be without a job, but he is not going away quietly.
On Monday, Washington State fired him and four assistants after they refused to comply with a state mandate that all state employees be vaccinated against COVID-19. The deadline was set in place by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and it included thousands of people, as well as the Cougar’s coaching staff, to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or risk losing their jobs.
“The noncompliance with this requirement renders ineligible to be employed at Washington State University and therefore can no longer fulfill the duties as a head coach of our football program effective immediately,” Washington State athletic director Pat Chun said during a Monday night news conference. “It is disheartening to be here today. Our football team is hurting. Our WSU community is fractured. Today will have a lasting impact on the young men on our team and the remaining coaches and staff.”
On Wednesday, it was reported that Nick Rolovich would be suing the university for wrongful termination, according to ESPN.
Rolovich will be suing the university for illegal termination, in part because of “discriminatory and vindictive behavior” by athletic director Pat Chun, an attorney representing Rolovich said Wednesday.
Via the report:
“Brian Fahling, an attorney in Kenmore, Washington, who is representing Rolovich, confirmed in a statement to ESPN that Rolovich’s request for a religious exemption based on his “devout” Catholic faith was denied by the university. Chun and WSU president Kirk Schulz on Monday would not confirm whether the exemption requests from Rolovich and the other coaches had been denied, saying only that Rolovich’s request for accommodations could not be met. The university used a blind evaluation process for all exemption requests, where a two-person panel does not know each applicant’s name or job title before making decisions.
Fahling accuses Chun of determining Rolovich would be fired as far back as April, four months before Inslee’s vaccine mandate went into effect.
“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,” Fahling’s statement reads. “Chun’s discriminatory and vindictive behavior has caused immeasurable harm to Coach Rolovich and his family.”
Brian Fahling also accused the Washington State of being deceitful toward Rolovich. He cited a “secret donor trip” that Chun had Rolovich attend in July 2020, before COVID-19 vaccines were publicly available, according to the report.
Fahling said Chun and others contracted COVID-19 at the event, while Rolovich did not.
After he was fired, he was escorted to his car by university police and was not allowed to address the team.