On Monday, Washington State University head coach Nick Rolovich was fired from his job, along with four of his assistants. It wasn’t because of his record, the Cougars are 4-3 and currently rank third in the PAC-12 North division. It wasn’t because he was unpopular with players. On the contrary, he was beloved by those he coached.
Rolovich and his colleagues don’t have a job right now because he refused to comply with Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s mandate that required all state employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Washington State athletic director Pat Chun said in a press conference that:
"The noncompliance with this requirement renders [Rolovich] ineligible to be employed at Washington State University and therefore can no longer fulfill the duties as a head coach of our football program effective immediately … It is disheartening to be here today. Our football team is hurting. Our WSU community is fractured. Today will have a lasting impact on the young men on our team and the remaining coaches and staff."
Rolovich had applied for a religious exemption back in mid-August after Inslee issued his tyrannical decree, but he has not yet made it clear to the public exactly why he had a problem with getting the vaccine (or what his religious beliefs are). He will not receive any more payments on his contract that were due to continue through the 2025 season.
Obviously, this situation is heartbreaking, and we can only assume that we will see more coaches, players, staff, and others losing their job in the world of sports because they don’t want to get the vaccine. But if there is one positive takeaway and lesson to be learned from this situation, it is that we do not have to answer to people for our decisions regarding the vaccine.
As of now, Rolovich and his assistants have not provided any sort of clarity on why they did not choose to get the jab. Frankly, this is the best thing that they could have done because, at the end of the day, they do not owe anyone – besides their families – an explanation for their decision.
The beauty of individual autonomy is that you should have the freedom to make a decision without explaining why you did something, especially not the vaccine mob that apparently has a stronghold in Washington State’s government and colleges. Whether it is a vaccine mandate, our religion, our career paths, or where we live, we have the ability to choose and not be scrutinized for those decisions.
Rolovich and his assistant may have lost their jobs because of this, but they have chosen to value their freedom than comfort, something that will pay dividends in the long run.