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Could Nick Rolovich lose his job even with a vaccine exemption?

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It does not appear to be out of the realm of possibility. Plus, today’s links.

PULLMAN, WA - SEPTEMBER 11: Washington State head coach Nick Rolovich Jack Ellis/CougCenter

With the deadline for achieving full vaccination status now just over a month away for Washington State coach Nick Rolovich, the external pressure is ramping up on the Cougars coach, who has only ever said that he intends to comply with the governor’s mandate.

This has led some to speculate that Rolovich might be intending to pursue a religious or medical exemption, and Seattle Times reporter Scott Hanson investigated what that might actually entail.

Nobody at WSU would speak to Rolovich’s specific situation — for obvious reasons — but WSU spokesperson Phil Weiler did offer a bit of clarity about the options that might be in play. We know that failure to secure an exemption in lieu of being vaccinated by October 18 will result in his termination. However, this is the first time we’ve heard this little nugget:

“There is a possibility (a university employee) can receive an exemption but have that exemption not be valid based on the job you perform,” Weiler said.

Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean it will apply to Rolovich — it’s a virtual certainty that Weiler meant it as a general statement — but it does open up the possibility that Rolovich (or any coach) could be fired even with an exemption, which would likely set up a protracted legal battle for the university.

At this point, it might be a battle the university is willing to wage.

All that being said ... Weiler also detailed the process for determining whether there actually are “sincerely held religious beliefs” or medical factors in play, and it’s not as simple as checking a box and getting rubber stamped. The way he describes it, it sounds like some people probably ought to prepare for the possibility that their exemption application will be rejected.

“Simply saying, ‘It’s against my religion’ is not sufficient to qualify for a religious exemption,” Weiler said.

“You have to explain what are the tenets of your religion that prevent you from receiving a vaccine,” Weiler said. “Another question that is asked is: Have you ever received a vaccine or sought medical care as an adult? It seems to me that if you have a long-held religious conviction against receiving vaccines, and you can prove that and can demonstrate that the religion you follow has that as a tenet of the religion, then you would qualify.”

He did note that applications will be “blindly” reviewed, which seems very smart from an HR perspective.

It’s also worth noting that one coach has already lost his job over a denied vaccine exemption: The Naval Academy recently fired its QB coach, Billy Ray Stutzmann. If the name sounds familiar, his brother is WSU QB coach/co-offensive coordinator Craig Stutzmann. Both of them have connections to Rolovich through Hawaii.

LINKS

Frustration grows, silence continues around WSU coach Nick Rolovich’s vaccination status | The Seattle Times
As the Oct. 18 deadline for state workers to be vaccinated against COVID ticks down, WSU coach Nick Rolovich and his bosses are not commenting on his status.

Rocky Mountain Hi - Washington State University Athletics
The WSU soccer team begins the weekend at Denver, the first of two final non-conference matchups.

Cougars Set to Host USC Saturday on FOX - Washington State University Athletics
Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. on FOX.

USC Trojans begin post-Clay Helton era at Washington State Cougars
With an interim head coach and reeling from a blowout loss in Week 2, Southern California visits Pullman, Wash., for a Pac-12 showdown with Washington State

‘We will prevail’: Williams brings a ‘1-0′ mindset ahead of Washington State matchup – Annenberg Media
Williams built competitiveness, connection and confidence in Tuesday’s practice.

Washington State offense takes step forward in Game 2 | Sports | lmtribune.com
According to quarterback Jayden de Laura, Washington State’s improved offensive play last week began in the trenches. But it didn’t end there.

Nine months after rough loss, improved Washington State quarterback Jayden de Laura gets rematch with USC | Washington State University | nbcrightnow.com
PULLMAN – In his first meeting with Pac-12 foe USC, Jayden de Laura didn’t feel like himself.

Cougars try to learn from mistakes against USC this time around - KXLY

No. 19 Arizona State at No. 23 BYU tops Pac-12 this week - The Washington Post
MATCHUP OF THE WEEK: Southern California at Washington State.

Morrow standing out early with Riders | Regina Leader Post
Jamal Morrow has gone from being a contestant on the Price is Right to a returner/running back in the CFL with the Riders.