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Washington State University's highest paid employee has been sensationally fired from his job after refusing to get the Covid-19 vaccine.
The university confirmed that the contract of football coach Nick Rolovich - worth more than $US3 million ($AUD4 million) per season - has been terminated "effective immediately" after he failed to comply with the state's Covid-19 mandate.
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The state of Washington announced a mandate for all of its employees to be fully vaccinated by Monday, with Rolovich's application to be granted exemption on religious grounds denied.
A small percentage of state employees’ religious exemptions have been granted in the two-step approval process.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced in early August that all state employees would be mandated to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The state's mandate required an employee who wasn't granted an exemption to be at least two weeks removed from his or her second shot of a two-dose vaccine (or only shot of a single-dose vaccine) by Monday.
That deadline meant Rolovich had to have gotten his second jab by October 4 to be in compliance with the mandate's deadline.
"Due to the requirements set forth in Washington Governor Jay Inslee's Proclamation 21-14.1, Nick Rolovich is no longer able to fulfull the duties as the football head coach at Washington State University," the school said.
In addition to Rolovich, the school said four of his assistants — defensive line coach Ricky Logo, cornerbacks coach John Richardson, quarterbacks coach Craig Stutzmann and offensive line coach Mark Weber — are also "not in compliance" with the governor's proclamation.
"As a result, Washington State has initiated the separation process based on the terms of their respective contracts, effective immediately," the school said.
Jake Dickert, the Cougars' defensive coordinator, will serve as the interim head coach.
Rolovich was highest-paid employee as WSU
Rolovich was the highest-paid employee in the state and is the first coach at the top level of college football to lose his job because of a vaccine mandate.
He has not publicly explained his reasoning for declining the COVID-19 vaccine despite myriad questions from media members regarding his refusal to get vaccinated.
His firing comes as Washington State is on a three-game winning streak after a comeback win against Stanford on Saturday.
Washington State University parts ways with former #HawaiiFB head coach Nick Rolovich and three other former UH coaches after not meeting the state of Washington’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate https://t.co/A1hTqPGfWN 📝 @c_shimabuku pic.twitter.com/Rq5mVJENsr
— Rob DeMello (@RobDeMelloKHON) October 19, 2021
Rolovich said that he was unclear about his future after the win and had not heard from the WSU athletic department regarding his exemption application.
"This is a disheartening day for our football program," WSU athletic director Pat Chun said.
"Our priority has been and will continue to be the health and well-being of the young men on our team. The leadership on our football team is filled with young men of character, selflessness and resiliency and we are confident these same attributes will help guide this program as we move forward."
Washington State president Kirk Schulz said that no employee at the school would receive special treatment regarding the mandate, adding that nearly 90% of WSU employees and 97% of WSU students are vaccinated.
"WSU students, faculty, and staff understand the importance of getting vaccinated and wearing masks so that we can safely return to in-person learning and activities. I am proud of all those members of our community who have set the example and taken the steps to protect not just themselves, but their fellow Cougs," Schulz said.
with Yahoo Sports US
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