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On final day to comply with mandate, Washington State’s Nick Rolovich remains quiet on vaccine status

Washington State head coach Nick Rolovich watches in the fourth quarter of an NCAA football game against California in Berkeley, Calif., Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. Washington State won 21-6.   (Associated Press)

On the final day state employees are able to comply with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s vaccine mandate, Washington State’s Nick Rolovich couldn’t say for certain whether he’d still be the Cougars’ football coach after Oct. 18, the day workers must be fully vaccinated to avoid termination.

When asked if WSU fans should be concerned when it comes to the coach’s employment status with the deadline approaching, Rolovich refused to answer in strict “yes” or “no” terms, instead responding, “I don’t think so.”

Unless Rolovich already received a Moderna or Pfizer shot, Monday was the final day WSU’s coach and other state employees/health care workers in Washington could take the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot in order to be fully vaccinated by the Oct. 18 deadline.

Unless Rolovich applied for a health or religious exemption, he will have needed to receive one of the three FDA-approved vaccinations to ensure he’ll be employed by the university after Oct. 18.

But Rolovich, sticking to a similar script, refused to say one way or the other whether he’s already complied with the mandate or how he planned to comply.

“I’m still following the process that’s laid out,” Rolovich said during his weekly Monday Zoom news conference. “I’m going to kind of leave it right there, but I appreciate you getting on and asking.”

In a story published Monday by The Mercury-News, author Jon Wilner wrote that Rolovich “apparently has chosen to risk his career – his life’s work – on not getting a vaccine (Pfizer) that has received full authorization from the FDA or the vaccines (Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) with Emergency Use Authorization.”

The article was mentioned during Rolovich’s news conference and WSU’s coach was asked directly if he felt he was jeopardizing his career, to which Rolovich replied “No.”

It was also suggested to Rolovich notifications had been sent out to state employees who’d yet to show their proof or vaccination or submit an exemption.

When asked if he’d received a notice, Rolovich said “I don’t know what you’re talking about with that.”

Rolovich may not be the only member of his WSU staff who’s yet to comply with Inslee’s mandate. Like WSU’s head coach, a handful of Cougar assistants have worn masks at games and practices since the team regrouped in August for preseason camp. Unvaccinated coaches are still required to wear masks outdoors, while those who’ve received the vaccine are not. During preseason camp, quarterbacks coach Craig Stutzmann, offensive line coach Mark Weber, defensive tackles coach Ricky Logo and cornerbacks coach John Richardson were all seen wearing masks during practices.

Rolovich said he doesn’t “plan on losing any staff” after the Oct. 18 deadline.