The firing disappointed many players and fans of the Washington State Cougars college football team, whose employees are classed as state employees.
Vaccines are mandated by Washington state and Democratic governor Jay Inslee, and the deadline for state employees to get vaccinated against Covid was on Monday, 18 October.
Ahead of that deadline, WSU said that “Due to the requirements set forth in Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s Proclamation 21-14.1, Nick Rolovich is no longer able to fulfil the duties as the football head coach at Washington State University.”
Four assistants at WSU also had their employment terminated for not getting vaccinated, and were identified as Ricky Logo, John Richardson, Craig Stutzmann and Mark Weber.
Mr Rolovich had tried to get a religious exemption, but it remains unclear what happened to the application at the time he was fired.
An Inslee spokesperson told NW News Network that for an exemption, an employee would generally have to be reassigned to a “back office” job that was not public facing – suggesting that it was not possible for Mr Rolovich to remain as head coach.
The New York Times reported that he was among the highest paid Washington state employees, and was two years into his five-year contract with WSU, worth $15.6m (£11.2m).
WSU’S athletic director, Pat Chun, said in a statement: .“This is a disheartening day for our football programme. Our priority has been and will continue to be the health and well-being of the young men on our team.”
WSU said itsefensive coordinator Jake Dickert will be acting head coach.
Mr Inslee’s procolomation is among the strictest in the US, and among many issued by governors and private firms to ensure workplace safety amid Covid.
Republican governors including Texas’s Greg Abbott have meanwhile rallied against mandates for vaccines in recent weeks and even tried to ban firms from doing so.Read More