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Washington State’s Nick Rolovich elects not to get COVID-19 vaccine ‘for personal reasons,’ won’t attend Pac-12 Media Day

Washington State coach Nick Rolovich looks on from the sidelines during a Pac-12 game Dec. 6 at USC.   (Associated Press)

In less than a week, the Pac-12’s football coaches will convene in Hollywood for the conference’s annual Media Day event.

All but one, actually.

Second-year Washington State coach Nick Rolovich won’t be attending Pac-12 Media Day in person this year due to the event’s vaccination requirements, he announced on Twitter Wednesday. According to the conference, Pac-12 Media Day participants must be fully vaccinated in order to attend the single-day event held on July 27 at Hollywood and Highland.

Rolovich has opted not to get a COVID-19 vaccine for what the coach described as personal reasons.

“As the Pac-12 Conference has required that all in-person participants at next week’s Pac-12 Football Media Day be fully vaccinated, I will participate remotely and look forward to talking about our football team and the incredible young men in the program,” Rolovich wrote in a statement. “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.”

According to multiple reports, Rolovich is the only Pac-12 head coach who won’t be in attendance at Media Day. Two WSU players, running back Max Borghi and linebacker Jahad Woods, will represent the Cougars in Hollywood next week.

It’s unclear what percentage of WSU’s football team is vaccinated, but in mid-April, once most Washingtonians were eligible to receive the vaccine, Rolovich told reporters “I know we’re talking about making it available for our guys.”

The coach also said, “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.”

WSU Athletics Director Pat Chun released a statement Wednesday afternoon regarding Rolovich’s decision not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, precluding him from attending his first in-person Media Day as the Cougars’ coach.

“Coach Rolovich and I have had multiple conversations regarding his decision not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” Chun said. “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.”

WSU is requiring vaccination for students who plan to be on campus this fall unless they’re able to receive an exemption for medical, religious or personal reasons.

In a tweet shared approximately seven hours after Rolovich announced he elected not to receive a vaccine, WSU President Kirk Schulz wrote “#WSU expects all students, faculty, staff and volunteers to be fully vaccinated before the start of the fall semester.”

Schulz also shared a link to a page reiterating the university’s position on COVID-19 vaccines.

“Washington State University expects all students, faculty, staff and volunteers to be fully vaccinated before the start of the fall semester,” a portion of the news release read. “As the state’s land-grant research university, WSU has an obligation to serve the public good and promote the health and safety of its communities. The science clearly shows that the COVID-19 vaccine nearly eliminates the chances of death or serious illness related to a COVID-19 infection and is a critical element in protecting public health locally and worldwide.”

Armani Marsh, a nickel defensive back for the Cougars and Spokane native, weighed in on Rolovich’s decision not to receive a vaccine, tweeting “No need to explain coach. @NickRolovich #LetsRoll #CougsVsEverybody”

The coach, who spent four years at the University of Hawaii before accepting a job in the Pac-12 last January, also received an endorsement from ex-WSU quarterback Jason Gesser, a native of Honolulu and graduate of Saint Louis High.

“Well said coach,” Gesser wrote on Twitter.