Former WSU football coach Nick Rolovich makes accusations against Cougar AD Pat Chun in lawsuit

More than a yr after Nick Rolovich was fired as Washington State’s football coach for failing to adjust to the mandate that state staff be vaccinated for COVID-19, the previous coach is firing again on the faculty and the state.

Rolovich, via his Kenmore legal professional, Brian Fahling, filed a 32-page lawsuit Monday morning in Whitman County Superior Court against Washington State University, Gov. Jay Inslee and WSU athletic director Pat Chun.

Rolovich, who had an annual wage of $3.2 million, was fired with trigger Oct. 18, 2021, which means he didn’t obtain the $3.6 million buyout he would have been owed had he been fired with out trigger.

The lawsuit says the defendants violated Rolovich’s “constitutional, statutory and contractual rights,” inflicting him “vital and ongoing damages.”

The lawsuit, which asks for an unspecified sum of money for damages, together with punitive, comprises many noteworthy claims. Among them have been that Chun interfered in the blind assessment course of to evaluate Rolovich’s declare of a spiritual exemption to the mandate, that Rolovich adopted all of WSU’s COVID protocols and Chun did not, and that “WSU willfully and improperly withheld wages from Mr. Rolovich.”

The lawsuit additionally says that when Chun instructed Rolovich in August 2021 {that a} new mandate would disallow private exemptions as a cause to forgo the vaccine, Chun insinuated that Inslee had sought that change to focus on Rolovich and WSU.

A WSU athletics spokesperson mentioned any remark in regards to the lawsuit would come from Phil Weiler, WSU vice chairman for advertising and communications.

In an e mail to The Seattle Times, Weiler wrote Rolovich’s lawsuit “is wholly with out benefit” and that the college enforced the vaccine mandate “in a good and lawful method” in deciding that the coach’s didn’t qualify for medical or spiritual exemptions.

“Washington State University will vigorously defend itself against Mr. Rolovich’s claims,” Weiler wrote.

Calls to Fahling’s workplace weren’t returned.

The lawsuit claims with out corroboration that WSU’s human useful resource providers division instructed Chun that it had decided that Rolovich was entitled to a spiritual exemption from the vaccine mandate.

The lawsuit says that Chun, in a memo to human providers, challenged the assertion that Rolovich was entitled to a spiritual exemption. Chun’s problem, the lawsuit says, was primarily based on “the Athletic Department’s assertion that ‘Rolovich had made a number of statements that solid doubt on his claimed sincerely held spiritual perception.’ “

The lawsuit says that on Oct. 18, 2021, the day Rolovich was fired, human useful resource providers despatched him an e mail saying it had decided it didn’t approve his request for a spiritual exemption. The lawsuit claims that human useful resource providers “allowed Mr. Chun to improperly affect and intrude with the ultimate choice made in its blind assessment course of.”

The lawsuit additionally says that whereas Rolovich adopted WSU’s protocols for COVID-19, Chun did not. The lawsuit claims that 4 days after Rolovich was fired, “Mr. Chun was caught violating masking laws at a donor occasion” and that days later, “Mr. Chun was caught violating masking laws whereas in the locker room with WSU football gamers.”

The allegation that WSU improperly withheld wages from Rolovich goes again to the summer season of 2020 on the peak of the pandemic. The lawsuit says Rolovich was requested to take a ten% lower in pay in gentle of the monetary points the pandemic had induced.

The lawsuit says that Rolovich orally agreed, “however solely on the situation that WSU doesn’t withhold 10 p.c from his assistant coaches. Nevertheless, WSU did withhold 10 p.c from the salaries of its assistant coaches.”

During the August 2021 assembly when Rolovich was instructed that the brand new mandate wouldn’t embrace a private exemption as an exception, the lawsuit says Chun “said that Gov. Inslee ‘did this’ simply to come back after Rolovich and WSU.”

The lawsuit says that primarily based on the context, “Mr. Rolovich understood ‘did this’ to imply that Gov. Inslee was making an attempt to drive Mr. Rolovich’s hand together with his new mandate as a result of he was indignant that the very best paid and one of many highest profile State staff had asserted private or spiritual objections to his vaccine mandate.”

Rolovich additionally made the assertion that Inslee was making an attempt to drive his hand when Rolovich appealed his firing in November 2021. The governor’s workplace responded then that, “He’s simply flawed.”

An Inslee spokesperson referred to the remark made final November and mentioned his workplace would haven’t any additional remark.

The lawsuit claims that not like different WSU football coaches, Rolovich’s contract “didn’t embrace provisions requiring him to observe state and federal well being and security tips.”

The lawsuit additionally says “nothing in Mr. Rolovich’s worker settlement with WSU contemplated a situation the place WSU might declare ‘simply trigger’ to terminate him as a result of he refused to violate his spiritual religion, conscience or bodily integrity.”

Although the lawsuit asks for no certain quantity, Rolovich filed a tort declare against the college in August looking for $25 million for wrongful termination. A tort declare is a prerequisite to submitting a lawsuit against a state company.

Washington State employed Rolovich in January 2020 after teaching at Hawaii, the place he led the workforce to a few bowl video games in 4 years after taking up a struggling program.

After main the Cougars to a 1-3 report in a shortened 2020 season, he entered the nationwide highlight when he introduced July 21, 2021, that he was not vaccinated for COVID-19 and wouldn’t attend Pac-12 media days in particular person.

The controversy relating to Rolovich’s vaccine choice remained a scorching matter till he was fired seven video games into the 2021 season with WSU having a 4-3 report.

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