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Update: WSU’s coach problem

Back on August 19, I noted here that Nick Rolovich (photo left, bio here), head football coach at Washington State University, double-talked to reporters when they asked about his vaccination status.

He said he’d “follow the governor’s mandate,” but didn’t say he’s been vaccinated or applied for an exemption.  If he has, why doesn’t he just say so, and end all the publicity over this?

Then, on September 16, the story landed on the Seattle Times front page. Their lede began, “There are many questions … and no answers,” which sure sounds like something’s up.

University officials aren’t talking. They told the Seattle Times “they cannot legally discuss an employee’s medical situation.” Rolovich isn’t, either. The newspaper said,

“You won’t get answers from Rolovich, who repeatedly brushes off questions about the subject, most recently on Monday [September 13], when he said over and over again, ‘I’m not going to talk about that.'”

College football coaches are public figures who routinely appear at press conferences and talk to reporters — it’s part of their job — so it’s not like he’s a shy person who clams up around reporters.

The best indication of what’s going on is that “Rolovich announced in July that he was not vaccinated against COVID-19 and did not plan to get the shot, saying the reason for his decision would remain private” (Seattle Times, September 16, 2021, page A6).

It seems unlikely that has changed, which puts him in conflict with the aforementioned governor’s mandate, which is that “everyone working in education must be vaccinated as a condition of employment. He set a deadline of Oct. 18” (ibid.), which appears to set up Rolovich to get fired less than a year into his new $3.2-million-a-year job. (For why he was hired away from the University of Hawaii, which paid him $600,000 a year, see this article.) I guess we’ll find out on October 18.

Unless WSU is colluding with him to defy the governor’s mandate. Maybe reporters smell a rat. But that would be risky on a number of levels. Insubordinate college administrators would be risking their own jobs. The college would get sued if someone got sick from exposure to the unvaccinated coach, unless he gets an exemption and complies with all the exemption requirements. If he’s not, and doesn’t, that has potential liability written all over it.

If he’s out of compliance, he should be fired. This shouldn’t even be debatable, and there should be no hesitation about it. The guiding principle is that this country has had enough of people making up their own rules. It’s costing us too much.

One more question: Why does he wear a chain around his neck?

Update (10/9/21): A Spokane newspaper reports (here) that Rolovich has “refused” the vaccine and applied for a religious exemption. Rolovich, a Catholic, may be basing that on politically conservative claims that the vaccine is linked to abortion. That won’t go anywhere; the Catholic pope has endorsed vaccinations, and WSU has previously rejected that as a basis for religious exemption. It seems to boil down to Rolovich not liking “being told what to do,” according to people close to him, and that could leave him without a job. He’s the only major college football coach in the U.S. who isn’t vaccinated.

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