Washington State University football coach Nick Rolovich has been fired from his $3 million a year position after he refused to get a COVID vaccine.
Rolovich, 42, attempted to cite a religious exemption for the vaccine, but was dismissed after failing to receive the shot by October 18 - WSU's deadline for staff.
The sports coach was raised Catholic, although refused to comment last week when he still adheres to the faith.
Some Catholics have blasted the vaccine, because it is made using cell lines derived from aborted fetuses. But the Catholic Church itself - including Pope Francis - have backed vaccines, and urged worshippers to receive the shots.
He was not the only member of the team's staff that was terminated as other unvaccinated assistant coaches were also let go from their positions.
Washington University football coach Nick Rolovich was fired after refusing to comply with the state vaccine mandate for religious reasons
Rolovich is believed to be of the Catholic faith where some members have refused to get the vaccine because they claim it was made using aborted fetus cells
Rolovich had applied for the exemption after the Cougar's 34-31 victory over Stanford on Saturday.
'I’m not terribly happy with the way it happened,' Rolovich told The Seattle Times.
'I hope no player that I coach has to wake up and feel the way I felt today.
'I don’t think it was malicious, but that wasn’t a great thing to wake up to, to be honest with you.'
He previously said in July that his reason for not getting the vaccine was 'private' but claimed that he respected workers who were receiving the shot, and hailed Washington state's success at administering them.
Rolovich had later claimed he would get the vaccine, following Washington governor Jay Inslee's announcement of the mandate in August because of the state's soaring cases.
Vaccine distributors such as Johnson & Johnson have used fetal cell lines in their product but not used aborted fetus cells to make it
The mandate, however, exempted people with medical and religious issues from getting the vaccine.
In addition to the state mandate, Rolovich's place of employment also required all workers to be vaccinated without exception.
'It certainly skews the perception of our message' Washington State University president Kirk Schulz told the New York Times.
'At most universities, people pay attention to what the university president, the football coach, the basketball coach and the athletic director have to say -- that's just the reality.
'People look at them for leadership because they're highly visible and highly compensated.
'It doesn't help when you have people who are contrary to the direction we're going.'
Washington governor Jay Inslee announced the vaccine mandate in August due to the state's soaring case numbers
June Jones, Rolovich's coach from the University of Hawaii, also commented on his former player's vaccination status before his firing.
'I don’t know exactly, but I know he filed a religious exemption, and they haven’t decided on that yet,' Jones told USA Today.
'He believes the way he believes, and he doesn’t think he needs it. It’s like I told him: It’s not about him anymore.
'It’s about the people around you and the credibility of the university, and he’s got to take one for the team.'
One of Rolovich's players Jayden de Laura defended his coach's decision in not getting the vaccine
Vaccine distributors such as Johnson & Johnson said that they used fetal cell lines as well as Pfizer and Moderna using it in the early testing stages.
Fetal cell lines are also present in everyday drugs such as Tylenol and Pepto Bismol.
'A concern about the possible use of fetal cells to develop vaccines is not, by itself, sufficient grounds to grant an exemption,' WSU spokesman Phil Weiler said.
Despite Rolovich's stance on the vaccine, his players have praised their coach regardless of his personal decisions.
'Players, we have no issue with Coach Rolo,' starting quarterback Jayden de Laurade Laura said.
'We have no issue with any of our coaches. We respect their decisions. I feel like it's just the guys covering us, they're trying to dig a hole on our Cougar football team.'