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Unvaccinated Nick Rolovich barred from Pac-12 media day

The WSU Cougars’ football coach will participate via Zoom — the only coach or player to do so.

NCAA Football: Washington State at Southern California Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State Cougars football coach Nick Rolovich has chosen not to receive any of the free, safe, and effective COVID vaccines and as a consequence has been barred from attending next week’s Pac-12 Media Day in California, he announced yesterday via Twitter.

“As the Pac-12 Conference has required that all in-person participants at next week’s Pac-12 Football Media Day be fully vaccinated,” Rolovich wrote, “I will participate remotely and look forward to talking about our football team and the incredible young men in our program. I have elected not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine for reasons which will remain private. While I have made my own decision, I respect that every individual — including our 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.”

Because many of the events at media day will necessarily be unmasked (photo sessions, video spot shoots, etc.), the Pac-12 is requiring all coaches and players who attend to be fully vaccinated with one of the three vaccines that have been approved for use in the United States and have been proven to be highly effective against serious illness caused by COVID-19.

Of the 12 coaches and 24 player representatives from the conference scheduled to attend, Rolovich is the only one who will not be attending in person.

Shortly after Rolovich’s announcement, WSU athletics director Pat Chun made his own statement.

“Coach Rolovich and I have had multiple conversations regarding his decision not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” Chun wrote. “While WSU has a vaccination mandate, there are policies and procedures for employees to follow who are not vaccinated. As a department, we will continue to educate our student-athletes, staff and coaches on the benefits of vaccinations and do all that we can to protect the health and safety of those in our charge.”

Shortly after that, WSU president Kirk Schulz’s official Twitter account weighed in:

Unsurprisingly, those don’t seem real supportive of Rolovich’s decision.

WSU’s official position is that all employees and students must be vaccinated to work or attend school this fall, however, there are extremely wide and liberal exceptions available to anyone who wishes to remain unvaccinated, including a provision for “personal reasons.”

How this will impact Rolovich’s ability to coach the team this fall is unclear. The “policies and procedures for employees to follow who are not vaccinated” referenced by Chun would presumably include masking and social distancing while on campus. We just don’t know beyond that.

It’s really not surprising that Rolovich has chosen this route. Any time he’s been asked about anything related to COVID, he’s been curt with his responses. This was after the win over Oregon State, which was two weeks before an outbreak on the team forced the cancellation of two games:

When asked about vaccines during spring practices, Rolovich responded only with, “I know we’re talking about making it available for our guys,” and “I don’t know the details on that, but that’s a little bit of a personal decision. I’m not going to get into that too much with these guys.”

Rolovich has been hinting at this all along, and it’s no surprise this is where he ended up.

He did, however, take a fair beating on Twitter for his decision, both from fans and media members.


A Grip on Sports: Rolovich's decision puts WSU President Schulz in a tough spot | The Spokesman-Review
A GRIP ON SPORTS • At 6:22 p.m. Wednesday night, Washington State University President Kirk Schulz issued a statement via Twitter. It reiterated the university’s position concerning the COVID-19 vaccine and the fall semester. Why? Because his most high-profile employee had, just a few hours before, publicly undermined the school’s policy.

Washington State's Nick Rolovich elects not to get COVID-19 vaccine 'for personal reasons,' won't attend Pac-12 Media Day | The Spokesman-Review
In less than a week, the Pac-12’s football coaches will convene in Hollywood for the conference’s annual Media Day event.

WSU Cougars football coach Nick Rolovich elects not to get COVID-19 vaccine, won’t attend Pac-12 media day | The Seattle Times
Rolovich said on Twitter he has opted not to get a COVID-19 vaccine for what the coach described as personal reasons.

NCAA football: Nick Rolovich won't get COVID-19 vaccine
The Pac-12 is requiring all coaches attending media day to be vaccinated.

Washington State's Nick Rolovich says he's unvaccinated, will do Pac-12 media day remotely
Washington State coach Nick Rolovich said he will take part in next week's Pac-12 media day remotely because the conference requires all in-person participants to be fully vaccinated.

WSU coach Nick Rolovich won't attend Pac-12 media day due to vaccination policy - Sports Illustrated
The second-year head coach said he is unvaccinated "for reasons which will remain private," and will instead participate in Pac-12 media day remotely.

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