Rolovich lawyer calls coach’s firing ‘unjust and unlawful’

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Former Washington State coach Nick Rolovich‘s termination for refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccination was unlawful and an attack on his Catholic faith, his attorney said Wednesday.

Attorney Brian Fahling also said in a statement that Rolovich intends to take legal action and that the litigation will detail what the attorney called athletic director Pat Chun’s “animus towards Coach Rolovich’s sincerely held religious beliefs” and his dishonesty at the expense of the former coach.

Rolovich and four of his assistants were fired Monday for not complying with the governor’s mandate that all state employees be vaccinated against the coronavirus. The attorney said Rolovich was escorted by campus police to his car and not allowed to speak to the team or visit his office after his dismissal.

Rolovich had requested a religious exemption but it was denied Monday, the state’s vaccination deadline.

“The institution also indicated that even if the exemption had been granted, no accommodation would have been made,” Fahling said in the statement.

The statement didn’t specify Rolovich’s religious grounds for seeking an exemption and the coach himself had declined to discuss details in recent weeks.

Pope Francis and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have stated that all COVID-19 vaccines are morally acceptable and that Catholics have a duty, responsibility or obligation to be vaccinated. However, some Catholics still oppose vaccination.

Statewide, about 1,800 workers have been fired, resigned or retired because of the governor’s mandate, state officials said. Rolovich was the highest-paid state employee in Washington at $3.2 million per year. He was fired for cause and will not be paid the balance of his contract.

Rolovich was hired from Hawaii two years ago, after Mike Leach left for Mississippi State, and led Washington State to a 1-3 record in the Pac-12 in a 2020 season cut short because of the pandemic. He finished with a 5-6 record in Pullman.

He was replaced for the remainder of the season by Jake Dickert, the Cougars’ defensive coordinator who was elevated to acting head coach.

WVU RB Donaldson in concussion protocol, out for Baylor game

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson is in concussion protocol and will miss next week’s home game with Baylor after he was injured in a loss to Texas, coach Neal Brown said Tuesday.

Donaldson remained on the ground after he was tackled on a short gain in the third quarter of Saturday’s 38-20 loss to the Longhorns. His helmet and shoulder pads were removed and he was carted off the field on a stretcher. After the game he was cleared to travel home with the team.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “There is a strict return-to-play (policy) that we have to follow here and I’m zero involved in it. All I do is ask the question. They don’t even start the return-to-play until they’re symptom free.”

Donaldson, a 240-pound freshman, leads the Mountaineers with 389 rushing yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) is idle this week and hosts Baylor (3-2, 1-1) next Thursday, Oct. 13.

Taulia Tagovailoa says he visited brother, Tua, over weekend

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to visit his brother, Tua, last weekend after the Terrapins’ game against Michigan State, he said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters since Tua left the Miami Dolphins’ game against Cincinnati last Thursday with a frightening head injury.

Taulia played in Maryland’s win over Michigan State on Saturday but was not made available to the media afterward. He said Tuesday he was able to go to Florida and spend some time with his brother, who suffered a concussion four days after taking a hit in another game but was cleared to return.

“He’s doing good, everything’s fine,” he said. “My biggest thing was just seeing him and spending as much time as I can with him. I came back Sunday night.”

Tagovailoa said he appreciates the support for his brother.

“My brother’s my heart. He’s someone I look up to, someone I talk to every day,” he said. “It was just a hard scene for me to see that.”

Tagovailoa said he was in constant contact with his mother about his brother’s situation, and he was finally able to talk to Tua on Friday night.

“I really just wanted to go there and just spend time with my family, hug them and stuff like that,” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “But he told me he’s a big fan of us, and he’d rather watch me play on Saturday. … After that phone call, I was happy and getting back to my normal routine.”

Tagovailoa indicated that his brother’s injury didn’t make him too nervous about his own health when he took the field again.

“I guess when that happens to someone like my brother, or when anything happens to one of my family members, I don’t really think of how it will be able to affect me,” he said. “I just think of: `Is he OK? How’s he doing?”‘

Although it was a short visit to Florida, he said he and Tua made the most of their chance to be together.

“I just wanted to make sure he’s healthy and stuff, which he is,” Taulia Tagovailoa said.