Former Washington State Cougars football coach Nick Rolovich plans to take legal action against the university following his firing on Monday for failing to comply with the state’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate, his attorney told CNN on Wednesday.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s proclamation required full vaccinations by this past Monday for most state employees.
Calling the former head coach’s firing “unjust and unlawful,” Brian Fahling, Rolovich’s attorney, said in a statement that the termination “came after Coach Rolovich’s request for a religious exemption from the vaccine was denied by the University. The institution also indicated that even if the exemption had been granted, no accommodation would have been made.”
CNN has reached out to Washington State for comment.
Rolovich, who was named the 33rd head football coach in WSU program history on January 14, 2020, was the highest-paid employee in the state, with a salary of $3.2 million.
In July, Rolovich said in a post on social media that he “elected not to receive a Covid-19 vaccine for reasons which will remain private.”
“While I have made my own decision,” Rolovich said then, “I respect that every individual – including our coaches, staff and student-athletes – can make his or her own decision regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Rolovich’s attorney alleges that Washington State Athletic Director Pat Chun was going to fire the coach in the spring.
“Since at least early April, it became clear that Chun had already determined that Coach Rolovich would be fired,” Fahling said.
“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. Chun’s discriminatory and vindicative behavior has caused immeasurable harm to Coach Rolovich and his family.”
In his first season at the school last year, which was shortened due to the pandemic, Rolovich finished 1-3. So far this year, the Cougars have a 4-3 record.
Washington State will play its first game since his departure this Saturday when the team hosts the BYU Cougars (5-2) at home.