Another major athletic coach is out of work as universities and other institutions close in on the unvaccinated. The latest person forced out was Billy Ray Stuatzmann, the assistant football coach at the Naval Academy. Stutzman was fired on Monday for refusing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine shot.
The popular assistant coach wrote a lengthy social media post indicating that the Naval Academy Athletic Association policy regarding COVID-19 required all coaches and staff to be vaccinated against this virus.
He wrote, “Based on my religious convictions, and after much thought and prayer, I am unable to follow the requirements of the Naval Academy’s Covid-19 policy, as it has changed these last few months. After applying for a religious exemption and attempting to further negotiate alternative working arrangements, I was ultimately relieved of my duties here at Navy. I continue to stand firm in my conviction of faith, but I understand and respect that each individual and institution has a choice on how they wish to manage these issues.”
Stutzmann has been coaching the Navy Midshipmen for three seasons. His head coach, Ken Niumatalolo, said his leaving was a big loss for the program because of what he added to the program. Niumatalolo wished he and his wife, Shanelle, the best of luck and said that he had a bright future ahead in the coaching world.
After the Navy football team experienced a big loss against the Air Force over the weekend, longtime offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper was also let go. But then on Monday, following news of Stutzmann’s firing, Coach Niumatalolo announced that Jasper will stay on as the quarterback’s coach. The coach said they were in an unfortunate situation and that there was a lot of emotion involved after a big loss, but that cooler heads would prevail.
This is just the latest example of how the COVID-19 vaccine has not only polarized the country but universities as well. The athletic programs in particular have experienced a major pull toward everyone being fully vaccinated.
Nick Rolovich, the head football coach at Washington State, gave a statement in July indicating that he would not receive the vaccine. This decision forced him to participate in Pac-12 Media Days remotely. When the state of Washington announced that there would be a mandate in August that required all employees working in education (K-12 up to higher education) to be vaccinated, Rolovich conceded that he would follow the mandate. He did not say specifically that he would receive the vaccine, and the mandate allows for religions and medical exceptions.
Because Coach Rolovich did not indicate whether he actually had the shot or not, many in the media have questioned whether he should keep his position as head coach of the Washington State football team.
The coach had an intense interview with a reporter on Monday asking him why he refused to indicate whether or not he has been vaccinated. He responded, “Yeah, I’m not going to talk about that Chris. I understand what you guys are trying to get to,” Rolovich said when asked whether he had scheduled his COVID shot.
The reporter didn’t stop asking Rolovich why he has refused to say whether he has received the vaccine or is applying for a religious or medical exemption. And he cited that people are “upset” with his lack of transparency.
The employees working in school facilities in Washington State will have until October 18 to be fully vaccinated or risk losing their jobs. There is no doubt that as deadlines like this come, the dominos will begin falling.