On Monday, Nick Rolovich’s tenure as head coach for the Washington State football team came to an end after he did not meet the state’s COVID-19 vaccination deadline for educational workers.
The mandate, which was announced by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Aug. 18, gave unvaccinated employees two months of advance notice to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 come Monday or be approved for a religious or medical exemption.
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Rolovich, who applied unsuccessfully for a religious exemption, was fired with cause by the university for failure to comply with the mandate.
When Rolovich was hired at WSU, he brought a bevy of Hawaii assistant coaches with him. On Monday, three of those coaches were let go along with him as Craig Stutzmann, Mark Weber and Ricky Logo were also terminated with cause. Wazzu defensive coordinator Jake Dickert, who Rolovich plucked from the University of Wyoming in January 2020, is now the acting head coach for the Cougars (4-3), who host BYU on Saturday.
“People had a choice,” WSU president Kirk Schulz said in a press conference via Zoom on Monday evening. “And they had months to make that choice.”
Meanwhile, the other staffers who followed Rolovich to Pullman from Manoa and will remain with WSU as of Monday are Jason Cvercko, Brian Smith, Andre Allen, Mark Banker, Dwain Bradshaw, Josh Omura and Kolney Cassel.
Rolovich’s original agreement with Washington State in January 2020 came with a five-year contract worth $15 million. If he were to be fired without cause, the school would have been obligated to pay him 60 percent of his remaining base salary. Out of the $3 million Rolovich was set to earn a year, $2 million was considered a part of his base salary. After being terminated in 2021, his remaining base salary from 2022 to 2024, which totals $6 million, is now left on the table.
Rolovich would be owed $3.6 million (60 percent of the remaining $6 million) if he were fired without cause on Monday. But because he was fired for cause, the university does not owe him, Stutzmann, Weber or Logo a buyout. Time will tell if Rolovich or any of his former assistants choose to seek legal action against the school for the manner in which they were terminated.
It is currently unclear what’s next for Rolovich, who was viewed as a bright football mind within the college coaching industry. However, a return to his alma mater, the University of Hawaii, is highly unlikely.
UH has a COVID-19 vaccine mandate of its own, which was implemented before the 2021 college football season. Every remaining coach on the Hawaii football staff is a living indication that the mandate was followed.
In his final season at Hawaii, Rolovich earned a salary of $600,000 and departed for a position that paid him 500 percent more than what he made on the UH sidelines.
Less than two years later, Rolovich lost his job at Washington State because of his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
On Monday, WSU athletic director Pat Chun said that Rolovich’s unwillingness to receive a COVID-19 vaccine was persistent.
“We’ve had conversations that date back months,” Chun said. “He’s resolute with his stance.”