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WSU coach Nick Rolovich still declines to confirm COVID vaccination status at state deadline

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Washington State football coach Nick Rolovich may have run out of time to save his job.

The Cougars coach declined once again on Monday to say whether or not he had been vaccinated against COVID-19 — something that is required for Washington state employees. The deadline for state employees to be fully vaccinated is Oct. 18, which means that Rolovich needed to receive his second dose of the shot by Monday.

Yet when he was asked about that by reporters on Monday, he once again declined to answer specifically.

“I’m still following the process as it’s laid out,” he said simply.

He was then asked whether or not Cougars fans should be worried about his job security in two weeks.

“I don’t think so,” he replied.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee issued a mandate in August that required all state employees working in an educational role at any level be vaccinated by Oct. 18. This, Inslee specifically confirmed, also includes Rolovich.

Rolovich has not explained why he won’t get vaccinated, though he did miss Pac-12 media day in July because he was the lone unvaccinated coach in the conference.

Rolovich had said he will comply with vaccine requirement

Though Rolovich is still refusing to say whether or not he is vaccinated, he has pledged to follow Inslee’s vaccine mandate in the past.

In August, Rolovich said so very clearly — but didn’t provide much detail.

“I plan on following [Inslee’s] mandate. For sure,” he said.

Rolovich was pressed a bit further, asking when he would get vaccinated and if the rest of the coaching staff would do so, too.

“I believe they all plan on following the mandate,” he said. “It’s what the deal is.”

Despite his comments, however, Washington State president Kirk Schutz confirmed last month that Rolovich still had not received his vaccine.

Schulz confirmed the news while speaking at a faculty senate meeting, and that he understands “the angst that’s out there over Coach Rolovich’s decision.”

Schulz also said, though, that nobody at Washington State would get a “free pass.”

"Let me be clear, there’s no free pass for anybody,” Schulz said. “Whether it’s coach, the president, it doesn’t matter. Everybody that’s a state employee has got to comply either by being vaccinated or filling out and getting an approved exemption. There’s no option B. So just so anybody knows, no one’s getting a free pass here because of who they are or what job they do."

What about the Oct. 4 deadline?

Rolovich had until Monday to receive his second dose of a coronavirus vaccine, as officials only consider someone to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus two weeks after receiving a second dose. He could have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is just a singular dose, though he would still need two weeks after that to be considered fully vaccinated.

Inslee’s mandate kicks in on Oct. 18, exactly two weeks from Monday.

The state has been very clear about the consequences for not following the mandate, too, saying that anyone who doesn’t get vaccinated or receive an exemption "will be subject to non-disciplinary dismissal from employment for failing to meet the qualifications of the job."

If Rolovich did not receive his second dose by Monday, it sounds like the second-year coach’s days as Washington State’s football coach are extremely numbered. 

If he is fully vaccinated, Rolovich may simply be trying to drag this saga out even longer by refusing to answer the simple question asked of him on Monday.

Why he would do that, though, is anyone’s guess.

Washington State Cougars head coach Nick Rolovich
Nick Rolovich had until Monday to receive his second dose of a coronavirus vaccine to comply with the state mandate. He again declined to say whether or not he’d done so. (James Snook/USA Today/Reuters)
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