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WSU football coach says he will skip Pac-12 media day over conference's vaccination policy. School president, AD — even the governor — are not happy about it.
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WSU football coach says he will skip Pac-12 media day over conference's vaccination policy. School president, AD — even the governor — are not happy about it.

The Pac-12 Conference is set to host its annual Pac-12 Football Media Day on Tuesday in Los Angeles. Anyone who wants to be a part of the event must offer proof that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or that they have had a negative PCR or antigen test within 72 hours of the event, Sports Illustrated reported.

Hundreds of coaches, players, media members, and school staff from one of the nation's Power 5 conferences will be in attendance to discuss the return of a full regular season of football since the pandemic forced schools to abbreviate or cancel their schedules last year.

But one head coach announced Wednesday afternoon that he won't be there in person — Washington State University head coach Nick Rolovich.

Rolovich, 42, tweeted his announcement just days before the media event is set to start and revealed that he has no plans to get the vaccine, so he'll participate remotely.

"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 tweeted.

"I have elected not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine for reasons which will remain private," he added. "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."

"I will not comment further on my decision," Rolovich concluded.

WSU athletic director, Pat Chun, issued a statement a couple hours later saying that he had spoken to the Cougars' head coach multiple times about the decision and that athletic department "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," CBS' 247Sports reported.

Shortly thereafter, WSU President Kirk Schultz tweeted, "#WSU expects all students, faculty, staff and volunteers to be fully vaccinated before the start of the fall semester." Attached to the tweet was a longer statement from Schultz on the school's website that was interpreted by some as an ultimatum for Rolovich, 247Sports said.

"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," Schultz's statement added. "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."

"Washington State University respects the right of individuals to decide whether to get vaccinated," the president continued. "WSU has instituted an exemption process for those who have medical or non-medical reasons for not receiving the vaccine."

"Those requesting an exemption will be required to wear a mask and maintain physical distancing and may be subject to other public health measures when on WSU property," Schultz concluded.

Even Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee chimed in, asking KHQ-TV, "Has he been suffering from misinformation? ... maybe we will give him a call and find out," 247Sports said.

Inslee went on to tell KREM-TV, "Anybody in a leadership position in the state of Washington, I believe, has an obligation to lead and use their leadership position to save lives. Governors, senators, football coaches. Help lead. Lead the effort to defeat COVID," according to 247Sports.

Rolovich is entering his second season at Washington State, Sports Illustrated reported. The Cougars went 1-3 last season in the pandemic-shortened season.

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