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University Football Coach Fired for Refusing to Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19

AP Photo/Young Kwak

Last month, I covered how the United States Naval Academy fired Assistant Football Coach Billy Ray Stutzmann for refusing to get vaccinated against the Wuhan coronavirus. Due to his religious convictions, Stutzmann was unable to receive the vaccine and attempted to negotiate other working arrangements as a result. Ultimately, Stutzman was relieved of his duties for not being vaccinated. 

This week, another college football coach was fired for refusing to get vaccinated. Washington State University fired head football Coach Nick Rolovich this week after a state Covid vaccination mandate took effect, to which he did not comply. 

According to a statement published by the university, four assistant coaches were also fired for non-compliance with the mandate, which primarily targeted health care workers and public employees.

"This is a disheartening day for our football program," Pat Chun, WSU's director of athletics, said in a statement published by the university. "Our priority has been and will continue to be the health and well-being of the young men on our team." Chun told reporters this week that Rolovich had applied for an exemption from the vaccine and was denied. 

In the statewide mandate, it declares that university employees were required to get the vaccine on or before Oct. 18. "Increasing vaccination rates at educational settings is the strongest protective measure against COVID-19 available and, together with masking, vital to providing in-person instruction in as safe a manner as possible," the mandate reads. "COVID-19 vaccines are effective in reducing infection and serious disease, and widespread vaccination is the primary means we have as a state to protect everyone, including persons who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, youth who are not eligible to receive a vaccine, immunocompromised individuals, and vulnerable persons including persons in health care facilities, long-term care facilities and other congregate care facilities from COVID-19 infections."

A report by NBC notes that Rolovich told reporters before the Pac-12 conference this year that he was not getting vaccinated for "reasons which will remain private," saying, "[w]hile I have made my own decision, I respect that every individual — including coaches, staff and student-athletes — can make his or her own decision regarding the Covid-19 vaccine. I will not comment further on my decision."

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