Pac-12 football coach calls for religious exemption from vaccination mandate
Washington state football coach Nick Rolovich has requested a religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine mandate after refusing to be vaccinated despite calls from his mentor to change his mind for himself and for others, according to this mentor, June Jones.
Jones told USA TODAY Sports Thursday night as Rolovich faces an Oct. 18 deadline to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or get approval for an exemption, according to the mandate of state employees. Washington. If he does not meet these requirements, Rolovich could lose his job, risking a once promising career.
âHe and I have had six or seven conversations in the last 60 days, and my advice is he take the hit,â said Jones, a former NFL head coach who coached quarterback Rolovich at the University of Hawaii in 2000 and 2001. âThere is too much at stake to risk losing your job, and it’s an unfortunate situation. It might be against what he obviously believes, but there are more people at stake – the credibility of the university, the lives of assistant coaches and their families. There’s a lot more to it than him, and that’s exactly what I told him.
Rolovich, who also served as a student assistant under Jones in Hawaii in 2003 and 2004, did not explain the reasoning behind his refusal to get the shot, Jones said.
âI’m not sure exactly, but I know he filed a religious exemption, and they haven’t decided on that yet,â Jones said. âHe believes as he believes, and he doesn’t think he needs it. It’s as if I had told him: it’s not about him anymore. It’s about the people around you and the credibility of the college, and he needs to take one for the team.
The WSU athletics department declined to comment on Friday when asked if Rolovich wanted to address the matter.
Despite frequent media questions on this subject, Rolovich refused to explain his vaccination status after announcing in July that he had chosen not to be vaccinated for private reasons.
WSU spokesman Phil Weiler also declined to comment.
âLegally, we cannot comment on the state of health of an individual employee,â he said.
At WSU, requests for religious exemptions are reviewed by a committee and are “blind” so that reviewers don’t know who the requester is, according to Weiler, who explained the process in general.
âReligious exemption issues ask applicants to specifically explain what principles of their religious practice prevent them from getting vaccinated or receiving other types of medical care,â Weiler said. In addition, they are asked to explain why they consider it to be a âsincere beliefâ.
In some cases, Weiler said an exemption decision can be overturned if the person’s work puts them in close contact with the public.
If employees are not vaccinated and approved, they lose their jobs. Rolovich is in his second season at the WSU with a 2-3 record this season.
A request for a religious exemption calls into question his religious beliefs, which he has not shared publicly, although clues can be gleaned from his background and connections. He comes from a Catholic family and attended a Catholic high school in Northern California.
Last month, a friend and former player of his, Billy Ray Stutzmann, posted on Twitter that he had lost his job as a Navy football assistant because his request for a the exemption from a vaccination mandate was refused.
Stutzmann’s brother Craig is Rolovich’s quarterbacks coach and WSU offensive coordinator. The two Stutzmann brothers attended a Catholic high school in Hawaii. Earlier this week, Billy Ray Stutzmann retweeted Conservative comments that linked vaccines to abortion.
Although Pope Francis and other Catholic organizations have supported COVID-19 vaccines, a number of conservative Catholics have opposed them on religious grounds, believing it to be related to abortion, which they oppose.
No aborted fetal cells are found in these vaccines, and the cell lines that were used to develop or test them were derived from elective abortions decades ago. In the case of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a fetal cell line was used to produce it. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines used a fetal cell line in early testing but not in production.
This is not new or unusual in medicine or in the development of other vaccines. A wide range of common household medicines have also used fetal cell lines in their development process, but generally do not attract the same resistance, including Tylenol, Tums, Maalox, and Pepto Bismol.
That’s why an Arkansas hospital asked those who requested a religious exemption to certify that they also do not use these common products for the same reason.
âConcern about the possible use of fetal cells to develop vaccines is not, in itself, sufficient grounds for granting an exemption,â Weiler said.
Rolovich indicated that he was not an anti-vaccine in general, but that he had a problem with those vaccines in particular. “I’m not against vaccinations” Rolovich said in July.
He is the only major college football head coach to publicly state that he will not be vaccinated, even though the vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective against a disease that has claimed more than 700,000 lives in the United States.
“It’s a personal decision for him, but it doesn’t show who he is as a coach, the passion he has for the game, the passion he has for his players and his ability to defend his players, “said George Rush, former Rolovich coach at City College San Francisco. “While this is not the decision I would personally make, when everyone beats you to death (with criticism of their decision), I think it takes a lot of courage to stand there knowing that his job is in. Game.”
Rush said he was vaccinated himself. The same goes for Jones, who said he initially didn’t want to get shot until it became too problematic for him to travel without.
âRolo is Rolo, and he is who he is because of the person he was,â Jones said. âHe was a quarterback, kind of his own guy, a leader. He’s been like that as a coach. He believes he doesn’t need to take it and doesn’t want to take it, and he doesn’t want someone telling him what to do. But like I said, for me there is just too much at stake. â