Former Washington State football coach Nick Rolovich appeals firing over COVID-19 vaccination requirement

Rolovich's attorney filed this week an appeal against the termination of Nick Rolovich, former Washington State football coach. He was accused of failing to comply with COVID-19's vaccination requirements. Before a federal civil rights lawsuit, Chun asked Pat Chun to "reexamine [his] illegal or unconstitutional conduct."
The appeal was necessary to allow Rolovich legal action. It includes allegations that Chun was hostile to Rolovich's "expressed religious or scientific reasoning for refusing a COVID vaccination" over a period of several months. It claims Chun called Rolovich a "con man", "selfish", and had "situational integrity" as well as having "extreme views on many issues.

Rolovich was fired by Washington State on Oct. 18 for his inability to follow Gov. Jay Inslee mandated that all state employees receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

According to ESPN, the appeal and related documents show that WSU's Human Resource Services department ruled Rolovich was entitled for a religious exemption on October 6. A document dated October 14 shows that the university's Environmental Health and Safety department created a list of safety procedures for COVID-19. Most of these are consistent with existing policies. It was specific to Rolovich and his job.

Human Resources Services determined that Rolovich had documented "sincerely held religious beliefs". A memo from the athletic department, dated Oct. 13, objected.

The memo stated that Rolovich had made it clear to Pat Chun (his supervisor) and others within the Athletic Department that he would not take the vaccine. This was in response to his independent research. He stated that he had conducted his own research and made an independent decision to decide that he wouldn't take the vaccine.

Phil Weiler, spokesperson for WSU, said that if an exemption request is approved initially, the supervisor of an employee can decide whether the university can provide necessary accommodations.

Rolovich did not explain his religious objections in the appeal. He simply stated that he was uncomfortable talking to Chun about "his religious opposition" to medical research that relied on abortion fetal issue. WSU professors have publicly supported such research in the past.

Rolovich, according to the memo sent by the athletic department to Human Resource Services on August 19, "disclosed that he tried to obtain a medical exemption but could not secure the required documentation." Rolovich then stated that he would choose to seek a religious-based exemption in order to satisfy the employment requirements.

The memo stated that Pat Chun had told Rolovich in that meeting that he had voiced his concerns and opinions about the COVID-19 viruses and the nature of the public emergency. He was always critical of the government's role and shared a variety of unfounded theories about vaccination.

He also claimed that he had given other reasons why he didn't get the vaccine. These included: It wasn't fully FDA approved at the time; it would negatively impact women and fertility rates (CDC says there is no evidence that the vaccine causes fertility problems in women or men); and it would "negatively affect his mortality."

Brian Fahling, Rolovich's lawyer, said in an email to ESPN that Rolovich had never considered applying for a medical exception and that the part about Rolovich not being able obtain medical documentation was categorically false. Fahling shared a line from Rolovich’s contemporaneous notes of the Aug. 19 meeting where he stated that he told Chun that he wouldn't pursue a medical exemption as it would require Rolovich "not to be truthful to obtain it."

Weiler stated in an email that the school would not comment on Rolovich’s appeal as it is a personnel matter.

According to Weiler, Chun had 10 days to review the appeal and decide whether or not to terminate the contract. If Chun does not reverse course, which is unlikely, Rolovich would have an additional 15 days to appeal to Kirk Schulz, the university president.