Nick Rolovich is out as Washington State, the school announced Monday. Co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Craig Stutzman, defensive tackles coach Ricky Logo, offensive line coach Mark Weber, and assistant head coach John Richardson were also terminated.
Rolovich and his assistants were dismissed today after declining to be vaccinated against COVID-19, putting them in conflict with the state of Washington's vaccine mandate for public education employees.
Defensive coordinator Jake Dickert will become the interim head coach.
Hired ahead of the 2020 campaign, Rolovich ends his tenure at 5-6. The Cougars won his final game as head coach and, sensing the inevitable, his players doused their coach in Gatorade following their 34-31 defeat of Stanford on Saturday night. "I don't think it's in my hands," he said after the game.
The saga began on July 21, when Rolovich announced he would not attend Pac-12 media day, because he could not comply with the event's vaccine mandate.
It then reached critical mass on Aug. 18, when Washington Governor Jay Inslee all of the state's education employees -- from K-12 bus drivers to Pac-12 football coaches -- must be fully vaccinated as of Oct. 18.
“It has been a long pandemic, and our students and teachers have borne their own unique burdens throughout,” Inslee said at the time. “This virus is increasingly impacting young people, and those under the age of 12 still can’t get the vaccine for themselves. We won’t gamble with the health of our children, our educators and school staff, nor the health of the communities they serve.”
Inslee's mandate provided a narrow exemption for medical or religious reasons, and Rolovich later revealed he pursued a religious one. Asked about Gov. Inslee's policy back in August, Rolovich said only that he planned to "follow the mandate."
All exemption applications were reviewed by a WSU panel with all personal identification removed -- meaning the panel did not know they were reviewing Rolovich's application as they reviewed Rolovich's application. If approved, the process would then meet a second phase, where Rolovich's superiors -- AD Pat Chun and president Kirk Schulz -- determined if their head football coach could continue his duties while unvaccinated.
Rolovich was under contract for three more seasons at $2 million per year. If fired without cause, he would be due 60 percent of his remaining base salary (roughly $3.6 million) with a duty to mitigate, although Section 4 of his contract would give the school plenty of cover to fire him with cause:
Termination by University for just cause. The University shall have the right to terminate this Agreement for just cause (Just Cause) prior to its normal expiration. The term Just Cause shall include, in addition to and as examples of its normally understood meaning in employment contracts, any of the following:
4.1.1: Deliberate and serious violations of the duties outlined in Section 1.2 of this Agreement or refusal or unwillingness to perform such duties in good faith and to the best of Employee’s abilities;
4.1.2: Deliberate and serious violations by Employee of any of the other terms and conditions of this Agreement not remedied after fourteen (14) days’ written notice to Employee or, if the violation cannot reasonably be remedied within that period, Employee’s failure to make reasonable efforts to cure such violation;
4.1.5: Conduct of Employee seriously prejudicial to the best interests of the University athletic program; or
4.1.6: Prolonged absence from duty without the consent of Employee’s supervisor.
In the meantime, the remaining Washington State staff will look to pull double duty for the remaining season before likely looking for work elsewhere. The Cougars play BYU on Saturday.