Rolovich was fired earlier this month for not complying with the state's mandate that all employees be vaccinated against COVID-19. Rolovich had applied for a religious exemption to the mandate but his exemption was denied.
According to a lengthy ESPN story, Washington State took multiple steps to dissuade Rolovich of his anti-vaccination views once it learned the coach was not going to get the COVID-19 vaccine earlier in the year. The athletic department even brought in a top immunologist from the school to help explain vaccines to Rolovich. And one of the questions Rolovich asked Dr. Guy Palmer was if the founder of Microsoft was involved in the vaccine. He's not, in case you were still unsure like Rolovich.
Over about an hour, Rolovich drove a conversation that focused on topics that were consistent with what Palmer said has been shared by the "anti-vax crowd on social media" over the past several years.
"Kind of typical ones: Is Bill Gates involved with the vaccines? Does [Gates] hold a patent on the vaccines?" Palmer recalled to ESPN. "He asked whether SV40 is in the vaccines and whether that could be a dangerous thing. And the answer to that is no."
Palmer also noted to ESPN that Rolovich didn't bring up any religious concerns regarding the vaccine. Since Rolovich was fired with cause for not complying with the vaccine mandate, he isn't entitled to any part of his contract buyout.
Rolovich is planning legal action against the school
Rolovich's attorney said in the story that Rolovich, a Catholic, isn't the type of person to discuss his religious views. Those views are now a central part of pending litigation against Washington State. Rolovich announced a week ago that he was planning a lawsuit against WSU because of his dismissal.
Rolovich has repeatedly refused to provide any public insight into his decision not to get vaccinated and his anti-vaccination status is at odds with the Catholic church. The church has gone to great lengths to persuade people to get vaccinated.
Rolovich's attorney Brian Fahling said that Washington State athletic director Pat Chun and the school had held animus toward Rolovich because of his Catholicism. Chun is Catholic himself and was not involved in Rolovich's religious exemption denial.
Fahling's statement revealed that Rolovich's exemption was denied in the first step of the two-step process. That first step was a blind review. Whoever denied Rolovich's exemption did not know who was applying for that exemption.
Rolovich was in his second season at Washington State and was fired after Washington State posted a 4-3 record through the first seven games of 2021. His career record at Washington State finished at 5-6 and he was 28-27 at Hawaii.