Rolovich sues Washington State over firing for refusing vaccine

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SPOKANE, Wash. – Former Washington State football coach Nick Rolovich has sued the university and Gov. Jay Inslee after he was fired last year for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The lawsuit, filed last week in Whitman County Superior Court, names the university, athletic director Patrick Chun and Inslee as defendants. Inslee, a Democrat, had required that state employees get vaccinated, or receive a specific exemption, to keep their jobs.

Rolovich contends Chun and other university officials were “hostile” when they denied him a religious exemption and fired him from his $3 million a year coaching job midway through the 2021 season. Rolovich was the highest-paid public employee in the state at the time and had more than three years left on his five-year contract.

Rolovich is Catholic and said in the lawsuit that he applied for a religious exemption from the vaccine requirement.

The lawsuit contends Chun interrupted that process, which led to Rolovich’s religious exemption ultimately being rejected. It also contends Chun called Rolovich a “con man” and accused him of being selfish.

Washington State officials issued a statement Monday saying the lawsuit was “wholly without merit.

“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. For multiple reasons, Mr. Rolovich did not qualify, and the university firmly stands by that decision,” the statement said.

Rolovich appealed his firing in a letter submitted in November 2021 to Chun, but the appeal was denied. A second appeal was then sent to university President Kirk Schulz, who denied that appeal in December.

Last April, Rolovich filed a tort claim saying he intended to sue and seek $25 million in damages for wrongful termination. However, the lawsuit filed this week does not ask for a specific dollar amount in damages.

The lawsuit alleges breach of contract, discrimination and wrongful withholding of wages, as well as violations of the Civil Rights Act and the First and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

Rolovich was hired from Hawaii in 2020 after former coach Mike Leach left for Mississippi State. In parts of two seasons, Rolovich led the Cougars to a 5-6 record. After he was fired at midseason, assistant coach Jake Dickert was named interim coach and led the Cougars to a bowl game last season. Dickert was made the permanent coach after that.

Alabama suspends freshman defensive back after drug arrest

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama freshman defensive back Tony Mitchell has been suspended from the team following his arrest on a drug charge.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said Monday after the first practice of spring that Mitchell was suspended from the team “and all team activities until we gather more information about the situation and what his legal circumstance is.”

The Holmes County Sheriff’s Office arrested Mitchell and another man, Christophere Lewis, last week on a charge of possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, according to a post on the department’s Facebook page. Lewis also was charged with carrying a concealed gun without a permit.

“Everybody’s got an opportunity to make choices and decisions,” Saban said. “There’s no such thing as being in the wrong place at the wrong time. You’ve gotta be responsible for who you’re with, who you’re around and what you do, who you associate yourself with and the situations that you put yourself in. It is what it is, but there is cause and effect when you make choices and decisions that put you in bad situations.”

Mitchell, who is from Alabaster, Alabama, was a five-star prospect rated the 34th-best player and No. 3 safety in the 247Composite rankings.

Mitchell was driving the vehicle during a traffic stop. After deputies smelled marijuana, Mitchell picked up a baggie of marijuana from the passenger floorboard, according to the department’s Facebook post.

Sheriff’s deputies found “an additional significant amount of marijuana, a set of scales, a loaded handgun between the passenger seat and center console, and a large amount of cash,” according to the department’s Facebook post.

Missouri linebacker Chad Bailey suspended after arrest

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COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri linebacker Chad Bailey was suspended from the team after he was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, the team said.

The 23-year-old, who was a team captain last season, was booked at about 2:45 a.m. and released after posting $500 bond, according to online records from the Boone County Sheriff’s Office.

“We are aware of the situation involving Chad Bailey,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said in a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He’s been suspended according to Department of Athletics policy. We have high expectations for all of our student-athletes, on and off the field, and we will follow all departmental and campus policies.”

Bailey was Mizzou’s third-leading tackler with 57 stops last season. He started all 11 games he played, missing two with an injury. He’ll be a sixth-year senior this fall after opting to return for his final year of eligibility, the Post-Dispatch reported.

The Missouri student-athlete handbook says any athlete who is arrested must serve a minimum one-week suspension.

Bailey was pulled over at about 1 a.m. not far from the Columbia campus for an expired license plate and lane violation, a police statement said. Bailey told the officer he had consumed alcohol and then performed poorly on a field sobriety test, the Post-Dispatch reported.