Nick Rolovich arrived at Washington State in January as the university's new head football coach. It has taken just seven months for the 41-year-old to destroy his career.
This weekend, Rolovich effectively cut wide receiver Kassidy Woods and several other players who joined a group of Pac-12 football players threatening to boycott the 2020 season. The group wants certain concessions from the conference related to COVID-19 safety protections, social justice reform, funding for all sports and more. Rolovich is apparently not OK with the movement and wants anyone from Washington State who joined it out of his program.
Woods informed Rolovich on Saturday that he would be opting out of the season for COVID-19 reasons, then confirmed he would also be joining the Pac-12 unity movement. He shared audio of the conversation with The Dallas Morning News and it does not make Rolovich look good.
Rolovich claimed he had no problem with Woods opting out for COVID-related reasons but objected to him participating with the the Pac-12 unity group. He told Woods he wouldn't be allowed to work out with the team as a result. Woods asked why he couldn't be with his teammates and Rolovich's answer is ... puzzling:
"Uh, because, you’re really playing this year for the team. You know what I mean? And you have your reasons and I’m fine with that, but I don’t think you being included in everything we’re doing is gonna be, uhh, how we want to move forward. We kind of want to be one team in that. So [inaudible]. … It’ll be — we’ll have to alleviate, you’ll probably have to get your stuff out of the locker room, you know what I mean? Stuff like that. So, and you know, it adds to another — the less people we can have around the better chance we will have this season, I guess is what I’m saying. And if you’re not gonna play, then we’re gonna use the resources on the guys that are gonna play this year."
Other reporters have confirmed Woods' story and are claiming a number of other players have been released from the team as well:
First off, whether Rolovich thinks he's doing the right thing or not is irrelevant. Any future recruits and their families will look at this as a hard-headed coach who isn't willing to listen to the concerns of his players. He's basically ruining any chance he'll have to attract decent talent to his program. Second, he's taking this stance as a new hire before he's even coached a game. That's pretty damn bold. And foolish.
More than 400 players were reportedly involved in group texts about the Pac-12 unity movement. This is not something that's going to go away by removing a few players from a program. This is a big deal and it will only get bigger the longer coaches and administrators try to ignore it. We know what Washington State's new coach thinks of it.
Rolovich decided he doesn't care what his players have to say and wants them removed from contact with his program instead. It's the kind of move that could wind up costing him his job. If not immediately, then in the long-term. He's almost certainly already lost his locker room.