LOS ANGELES — Washington State University (WSU) Head Football Coach Nick Rolovich reiterated on Tuesday that he is not vaccinated against COVID-19 and "I plan on adhering to all policies that are implemented for the unvaccinated."
But it is clear the issue, and his stance, are not going away anytime soon.
His appearance, at PAC-12 Media Day Tuesday, came after he publicly admitted he has not received the vaccine and therefore would not attend the annual event in Hollywood. He was the only coach of the twelve member institutions to not attend in person.
Rolovich's statement last week prompted a social and public relations firestorm on the Pullman campus. After all, the university had already made a statement that it "expects all students, faculty, staff and volunteers to be fully vaccinated before the start of the fall semester."
Rolovich is the highest paid WSU employee.
"The reasons for my individual choice will remain private," said a somber-looking Rolovich, who previously has been known for his jovial and approachable personality.
He was asked again about the risk for his team, and the potential forfeiting of a game based on an outbreak. "Like I said, I’m going to follow all policies that are laid out, kind of stand on the statement we have," he replied.
WSU President Kirk Schulz declined comment after the press conference through a spokesperson.
WSU's Athletic Director Pat Chun told reporters "Nick & I fully knew the second this went public, it was going to create a certain level of passion because of the issue that's at play here. Nick made a decision, we're going to manage it and we're going to go forward."
However, there remains concern that Rolovich's decision puts student athletes, and the university, at risk.
"I paint a scenario where you are there Friday night you have spent $700 dollars on a hotel cause that's what it cost over there, cause you have to stay two night minimum and you find out a game has been cancelled because the head coach and his players have decided not to get a vaccine," said SportsRadio 950 KJR Host Jason Puckett during a recent broadcast, "The restaurants, the bars, they all lose out. The stadium loses out on revenue, the school loses out on revenue because of a selfish decision made by the leader of the football team. It's inexcusable."
Rolovich is in his second season at WSU, and earns $3 million dollars a year. The team went 1-3 last year on a pandemic shortened season, which included the cancellation of the Apple Cup because of a COVID-19 outbreak.
When asked about the risk of similar problems, again Rolovich repeated the same line: "I’m going to follow all policies that are laid out, kind of stand on the statement we have."