Washington State head coach Nick Rolovich intimates opting out over COVID-19 concerns is fine, not so much for Pac-12 players movement


Another layer has been added to a Washington State story that exploded across the college football world late this weekend.

Sunday afternoon, players from across the Pac-12 confirmed that they will sit out the 2020 season en masse unless a laundry list of concerns are addressed.  A short time later, allegations began to emerge that Washington State football players were being “released from the team” over their support for the movement. One of those making such a claim was the mother of wide receiver Kassidy Woods.  A Wazzu spokesperson subsequently told the Dallas Morning News “is a member of our football roster.”

Woods himself confirmed to the Morning News that he is opting out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19 concerns related to the sickle-cell trait he possesses.  The player had previously confirmed to Washington State head football head coach Nick Rolovich in a phone call that he would be opting out.  Rolovich told Woods “I got nothing wrong with that” on the coronavirus front.  Where Rolovich started down a slippery slope was when Woods confirmed he is joining the Pac-12 football unity movement.

At that point, Rolovich intimated that Woods’ future with the Cougars is in jeopardy.  And how do we know that?  Because Woods recorded the phone conversation with his coach.  And the Morning News transcribed it.

Rolovich: OK so that’s going to be, that’s gonna be an issue if you align with them as far as future stuff, cause the COVID stuff is one thing. But, um, joining this group is gonna put you on a, on a — that’s obviously, you know, you get to keep your scholarship this year, but it — it’s gonna be different. You know, if you, if you say, ‘I’m opting out ‘cause of COVID and health and safety,’ I’m good. But this group is gonna change, uh, I guess, how things go in the future for everybody, at least at our school. Um, so just think about that is, if it’s about getting paid and not (inaudible) about racial justice and that stuff. Then it’s probably, it’s there’s two sides, there’s two sides here. I’m good with the Sickle Cell and the COVID, and but this, this group is gonna be at a different level as far as how we’re kind of going to move forward in the future. Does that make sense?

Woods: Yes sir.

Rolovich: OK so it’s not, you know, there’s one way we’ll handle it if it’s COVID-related. And then there’s one way we’re going to handle it if it’s joining this group. So I appreciate you letting me know. And I was going to address this tomorrow night at the Zoom.

(To read the entire transcript, including Rolovich confirming players who opt-out will, understandably, not be permitted to practice or work out with the team this season, click HERE.)

Woods, a redshirt sophomore, went on to tell the newspaper that he is unsure if he will still have a scholarship beyond this year.  Thus far, and the brief roster statement to the Morning News aside, neither Wazzu nor Rolovich has commented publicly on any of the developments of the past 24 hours.