The former head football coach for Washington State University is appealing to get his job back after he was fired last month over his refusal to comply with the state's Covid-19 vaccine mandate.
An attorney for Nick Rolovich wrote a 34-page appeal letter Tuesday accusing Patrick Chun, the university's director of athletics, of being hostile toward the coach because of his views on the vaccination.
"An appeal of this sort is usually the employee’s opportunity to restate his case and plead with his employer. But we see this appeal differently," the letter addressed to Chun reads.
"This is your opportunity to take a step back, reexamine your illegal and unconstitutional conduct, and adopt a different posture toward Coach Rolovich before you and the University are forced to defend your conduct in the context of a federal court civil rights action."
Rolovich, who was hired in January 2020 to lead the Cougars, was terminated in mid-October after his request for a religious exemption was denied. Four assistant coaches were also fired for not complying with Gov. Jay Inslee's mandate requiring health care workers, public employees and others to get vaccinated.
The letter states that Chun made a number of statements to the head coach "that demonstrated his hostility toward Coach Rolovich’s expressed religious and scientific reasons for refusing to receive a COVID vaccine."
"Mr. Chun even told Coach Rolovich that his request for a religious exemption would be denied and he would be fired unless he agreed to be vaccinated," according to the letter.
Chun did not immediately return a request for comment on Friday.
It also claims that during two separate meetings in May, Chun said he was concerned about Rolovich's mental health and told the coach that his "beliefs were making him incapable of leading his players."
Rolovich applied for the religious exemption on Sept. 28, and on Oct. 6 the Human Resource Services department notified Chun that the coach was entitled to the exemption, the letter said. The department said it was considering approving it as long as the athletics department could accommodate a set of outlined safety protocols.
The athletics department told the Human Resource Services that it could not accommodate the protocols, according to the letter. Rolovich was informed that his religious exemption had been denied shortly before Chun informed him he was being fired, the letter states.
Rolovich's attorney said in the letter that the university's handling of his exemption request was "rife with procedural problems and constitutional errors."
Rolovich, who was named Mountain West Conference coach of the year in 2019 when he was at the University of Hawaii, was in his second season at Washington State. He had led the team to a 4-3 record this year.