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Former Washington State head football coach Nick Rolovich has sued Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, the university and WSU athletic director Pat Chun, seeking damages after he was fired by the university in October 2021 for remaining unvaccinated against COVID-19. 

The complaint “contains eight counts, including breach of contract, discrimination against religion, wrongful withholding of wages and violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act as well as the First and 14th amendments,” according to ESPN. 

Washington State coach Nick Rolovich watches during the first half of a game against Stanford Oct. 16, 2021, in Pullman, Wash. The former Washington State football coach filed a claim against the university April 27, 2022, seeking $25 million for wrongful termination after he was allegedly fired last year for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Washington State coach Nick Rolovich watches during the first half of a game against Stanford Oct. 16, 2021, in Pullman, Wash. The former Washington State football coach filed a claim against the university April 27, 2022, seeking $25 million for wrongful termination after he was allegedly fired last year for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19. 
(AP Photo/Young Kwak, File)

The state of Washington required all state employees to either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or have an approved exception.

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On a recent episode of “The Jason Rantz Show,” Rolovich alleged that, around the end of 2020, beginning of 2021, the Washington State athletic director suggested he receive a COVID-19 vaccine in front of the entire football team.   

“The AD said ‘Hey, let’s put you on the 50-yard line, we’ll have the team all around you and the doctor will give you the vaccine in front of everybody,'” Rolovich said. 

“I said, ‘Absolutely not. I have no desire to do that.’ I wasn’t going to make it a circus.”

Head coach Nick Rolovich of the Washington State Cougars during the second half of a game against the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Coliseum Dec. 6, 2020, in Los Angeles. 

Head coach Nick Rolovich of the Washington State Cougars during the second half of a game against the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Coliseum Dec. 6, 2020, in Los Angeles. 
(Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Rolovich, who is Catholic, had his religious exemption denied and was fired along with four other coaches on his staff in October 2021. 

On the podcast, Rolovich alleged that his religious exemption to the vaccine was initially accepted, but after some “back and forth” between the AD and human resources, his exemption was denied, and he was fired for cause. 

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“The only regret is not coming out and talking about the religious exemption earlier,” Rolovich said. “Because internally we were talking about, ‘Let’s just stay on message. You’re going to follow the mandate. You’re going to follow the mandate.’ And I look like a jerk. I’m just saying ‘I’m going to follow the mandate.’

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“I would have rather just talked about it. Talked it out. People need to know I’m a pretty honest guy. I’m not trying to trick people and manipulate people. I thought we were going to get the religious exemption and move on.”

Nick Rolovich, head coach of the Washington State Cougars, talks with officials during a game against the Utah Utes Sept. 25, 2021, at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

Nick Rolovich, head coach of the Washington State Cougars, talks with officials during a game against the Utah Utes Sept. 25, 2021, at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. 
(Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

Following the news of Rolovich’s lawsuit, Washington State released a statement saying the school will “vigorously defend” itself. 

“Washington State University carried out the Governor’s COVID-19 vaccination proclamation for state employees in a fair and lawful manner, including in its evaluation of employee requests for medical or religious exemptions and accommodations,” Washington State said in a statement, according to ESPN.

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“For multiple reasons, Mr. Rolovich did not qualify, and the university firmly stands by that decision. Washington State University will vigorously defend itself against Mr. Rolovich’s claims.”

Washington State University didn’t respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on Rolovich’s most recent remarks.

Rolovich was head coach of the Cougars for just 11 games before his dismissal, going 5-6 from 2020-21. 

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