WSU HC Nick Rolovich Clarifies Remarks Made to Kassidy Woods on Pac-12 Group

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 4, 2020

Washington State football head coach Nick Rolovich walks along the court before an NCAA college basketball game between Washington State and Oregon State in Pullman, Wash., Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Young Kwak/Associated Press

Washington State head football coach Nick Rolovich expressed regret for his interaction with wide receiver Kassidy Woods.  

Ralph D. Russo of the Associated Press shared Rolovich's statement, in which he claimed he did not know the concerns of the Pac-12 group:

Ralph D. Russo @ralphDrussoAP

Statement from Washington State coach Nick Rolovich. https://t.co/fBTpQdLfJp

"Without knowing the concerns of the group, I regret that my words cautioning Kassidy have become construed as opposition," the head coach said. "I'm proud of our players and all the Pac-12 student-athletes for using their platform, especially for matters they are passionate about." 

The statement comes after Woods told Josh Peter of USA Today he believes he was removed from the team for aligning with the group of Pac-12 athletes who threatened to sit out if a number of demands issued in the Players' Tribune were not met, including addressing racial injustice in college sports and society, clear COVID-19 safety measures and the ability to make money through name, image and likeness rights.

"I can't even be around my teammates, so that lets me know I'm dismissed from the team," Woods said while explaining he was removed from the Cougars' team group chat.

Woods said he told Rolovich he did not plan on playing this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic because he was at higher risk because he has sickle cell anemia. That is when, according to the wide receiver, the coach said he would accept that health-based decision but felt Woods' future with the team would be in jeopardy if he remained aligned with the group of Pac-12 players.

Theo Lawson of the Spokesman-Review provided details on the exchange:

Theo Lawson @TheoLawson_SR

I've spoken to Kassidy Woods on the phone about his decision to opt out. #WSU coach Nick Rolovich said, according to Woods, (paraphrased) "There’s one way we’ll handle it if it’s COVID-related, then there’s one way we’re going to handle it if it’s joining this group."

Theo Lawson @TheoLawson_SR

According to Woods, Rolovich asked the player if he'd be joining the @Pac12 unity group. Woods said he would be. Rolovich said (paraphrased), "that's going to be an issue if you align with them as far as future stuff, right?"

Theo Lawson @TheoLawson_SR

During our phone call, Kassidy Woods' father, John, paraphrased what #WSU coach Nick Rolovich told his son. https://t.co/thwp2ZRUQt

Rolovich expressed regret after the story made national headlines. 

He is yet to coach a game for Washington State, which hired him in January following a four-year stint with Hawaii.