Washington State football coach Nick Rolovich announced Wednesday that he has decided to not receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and he won’t attend the coming Pac-12 media day in person.
Rolovich will instead speak remotely during the event, which is scheduled for Tuesday in Los Angeles.
Multiple outlets reported that all other conference coaches will participate on site at the media day — per Pac-12 rules, players and coaches must be vaccinated to do so.
“As the Pac-12 Conference has required that all in-person participants at next week’s Pac-12 Football Media Day be fully vaccinated, I will participate remotely and look forward to talking about our football team and the incredible young men in our program,” Rolovich said in a statement posted to Twitter.
“I have elected not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine for reasons which will remain private. While I have made my own decision, I respect that every individual — including our coaches, staff and student-athletes — can make his or her own decision regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.”
WSU athletic director Pat Chun released a statement later in the day, indicating he and the second-year Cougar coach have had “multiple conversations regarding his decision not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.”
“While WSU has a vaccination mandate, there are policies and procedures for employees to follow who are not vaccinated,” Chun said. “As a department, we will continue to educate our student-athletes, staff and coaches on the benefits of vaccinations and do all that we can to protect the health and safety of those in our charge.”
Washington State requires all students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated, with some exemptions allowed that relate to medical, religious or personal reasons. Non-vaccinated individuals must adhere to certain procedures, like wearing a mask and social distancing on campus.
WSU president Kirk Schulz later said in a statement the school “expects all students, faculty, staff and volunteers to be fully vaccinated before the start of the fall semester.”
“As the state’s land-grant research university, WSU has an obligation to serve the public good and promote the health and safety of its communities,” Schulz said. “The science clearly shows that the COVID-19 vaccine nearly eliminates the chances of death or serious illness related to a COVID-19 infection and is a critical element in protecting public health locally and worldwide.”
The release also said the school respects the right of individuals to decide for themselves whether to receive a vaccine, and reiterated that those who are granted exemptions will be subjected to different rules than vaccinated people.
Running back Max Borghi and linebacker Jahad Woods will represent the Cougars in L.A. Rolovich is scheduled to speak at 9:20 a.m.
Borghi added to Doak Walker list
Borghi, a senior, was added to the Doak Walker Award watch list earlier in the day.
It’s the third consecutive year Borghi has made the preseason list for the award given to the nation’s top running back.
Borghi appeared in just one game in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, rushing for 95 yards and a touchdown in the 45-28 loss in the season finale Dec. 19 at Utah. In his career, the Arvada, Colo., native is fourth in school history with 29 total touchdowns and fifth with 20 rushing touchdowns.