The Washington State University football coach fired after refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 is reportedly planning to file a lawsuit against the school on the argument he was released as a result of "discriminatory and vindictive behavior."
The coach, Nick Rolovich, whose salary totaled $3.1 million annually is specifically citing the behavior of the school Athletic Director Pat Chun.
Rolovich cited religious beliefs as the reason he remained unvaccinated, despite a statewide order issued by Gov. Jay Inslee (D) in August. The mandate applies to health-care workers and all public employees in the state.
Brian Fahling, an attorney for Rolovich, said in a statement, "It is a tragic and damning commentary on our culture and more specifically on Chun that Coach Rolovich has been derided, demonized and ultimately fired from his job merely for being devout in his Catholic faith."
"Since at least early April, it became clear that Chun had already determined that Coach Rolovich would be fired. Chun’s animus toward Coach Rolovich’s sincerely held religious beliefs, and Chun’s dishonesty at the expense of Coach Rolovich during the past year is damning and will be thoroughly detailed in litigation. Chun’s discriminatory and vindicative [sic] behavior has caused immeasurable harm to Coach Rolovich and his family.
"The university's deceitfulness about being unable to accommodate Coach Rolovich even if his religious exemption request had been granted, is exemplified by Chun’s actions arranging a ‘secret’ donor trip that he had Coach Rolovich attend at the height of the pandemic in July 2020. During that excursion, Chun and other attendees contracted the disease, but Coach Rolovich did not," continued the statement.
The statement confirmed that Rolovich's request for religious exemption had been denied by the school's committee.
Rolovich had three years and about $9 million remaining on his contract at the time of his firing.
Four assistant coaches were fired in addition to Rolovich, said the school.