Washington State Head Football Coach Nick Rolovich Fights Being Fired for Coaching While Catholic

AP Photo/Young Kwak

Nick Rolovich, who until last Monday was Washington State University’s head football coach, has announced through his attorney he will be suing the university for wrongful termination. The university fired Rolovich and four assistant coaches for refusing to take a COVID vaccine, as mandated for all Washington state employees by state Governor Jay Inslee. Rolovich had previously requested an exemption from the vaccine mandate based on his adherence to Catholicism.

The Church’s primary dictum regarding COVID vaccination was issued in December of last year. The document issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19-vaccines, focused primarily on the ethical issue of Catholics taking a vaccine that, as the document states:

… employed cell lines drawn from tissue obtained from two abortions that occurred in the last century.

The document concludes that it is permissible for Catholics to take vaccines developed in such a manner as the vaccine acceptor is neither a direct participant in nor approver of the abortions in question. The document continues:

At the same time, practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary. In any case, from the ethical point of view, the morality of vaccination depends not only on the duty to protect one’s own health, but also on the duty to pursue the common good. In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed. Those who, however, for reasons of conscience, refuse vaccines produced with cell lines from aborted fetuses, must do their utmost to avoid, by other prophylactic means and appropriate behavior, becoming vehicles for the transmission of the infectious agent. In particular, they must avoid any risk to the health of those who cannot be vaccinated for medical or other reasons, and who are the most vulnerable.

In brief, vaccination participation cannot be forced, and those who choose not to accept the vaccine must take all proper precautions to neither contract nor spread COVID.

In the ESPN story about the upcoming lawsuit, neither WSU athletic director Pat Chun nor university president Kirk Schulz would confirm whether the vaccination exemption requests by Rolovich and the now-dismissed assistant coaches had been denied. Rolovich’s lawyer Brian Fahling said in a statement to ESPN:

“Chun’s animus towards 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 vindictive behavior has caused immeasurable harm to Coach Rolovich and his family.”

Rolovich’s players have publicly strongly disagreed with his firing. WSU starting quarterback Jayden de Laura said the following on Twitter:

Cornerback Jaylen Watson noted, also on Twitter:

This man changed my life in so many ways.. A real stand up dude that always stands on what he believes in heart was so pure and a true role model to me and my teammates. Was always bigger than a dollar sign which is the only thing you wrap your fingers around. Everyone bashes this man day in and day out like he is not human or has feelings. Forcing him to have no friends all he had was us and all we had was him love you forever @NickRolovich

While it is to a degree plausible Rolovich’s dismissal is based on his refusal to take the vaccine regardless of reason, it is challenging to believe an out of hand dismissal of his faith as a reason for refusing the vaccine, be it based on inadequate knowledge of Catholic doctrine or an anti-Catholic bias, played no part in the decision. In either case, Washington State has handled it as ineptly as possible, and no amount of pro-vaccine sycophantic MSM coverage can disguise this fact,