On Monday, Washington State University fired Nick Rolovich for cause after he refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19 before the Washington State mandate for doing so for all government employees. The termination also included multiple assistant coaches who were not vaccinated either.

It was the culmination of months of speculation as Rolovich refused to get vaccinated or ever explain why he refused to. The only insight into his reasoning came in a request for a religious exemption to the mandate, which we’ve since learned was denied.

Rolovich did not make any public statements on Monday or since. After Washington State’s win on Saturday, he told reporters that he expected to remain as head coach but that it “I don’t think this is in my hands.”

On Wednesday, we finally heard from Rolovich, or more specifically, his lawyer, who announced that they would be taking legal action against “Washington State University, and all parties responsible for his illegal termination.” Presumably, this includes Washington State and Governor Jay Inslee.

The announcement claims that Rolovich was escorted off campus immediately after being fired (which is what happens to most fired employees) and he was not allowed to speak with his players (which, again, makes sense because he was fired).

The release actually offers the first confirmation that Rolovich was denied for his religious exemption. It added that it was “indicated” by the university that it would not accommodate him even if he had been approved.

The press release also alleges that “Since at least early April, it became clear that [Director of Athletics Pat] Chun has already determined that Coach Rolovich would be fired.” The release says that will be detailed in the official litigation.

It’s yet to be determined what kind of damages Rolovich will be seeking.

Some kind of legal case might be helpful for the public to better understand why Rolovich stood pat on his desire not to get vaccinated and help protect his players and community. Until then, assumptions run wild and Washington State was simply left to do the only thing it could do under the mandate. Rolovich wasn’t the only Washington public employee who left their job because they refused to meet the mandate, but he’s certainly the highest-profile one, and if he wants to be an example or a martyr, this is the playbook.

[Jade Elliott, Chris Vannini]

About Sean Keeley

Sean Keeley is the creator of the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and author of 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and many other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle.