Washington State head football coach Nick Rolovich broke his silence tonight and expressed regret about his controversial telephone call with Cougars wide receiver Kassidy Woods regarding the Pac-12 players group #WeAreUnited, which is advocating for social justice.
In the Sunday phone call recorded by Woods, the wide receiver told his coach that he was opting out of the upcoming season due to personal health concerns related to the coronavirus.
Rolovich told him he had no problem with the decision but then asked Woods if he was with the #WeAreUnited group. When Woods confirmed that he was a member of the group, Rolovich told him that being involved with the group would hurt his standing with the team, and that he should clear out his locker.
Woods released a transcript of his call with Rolovich to the Dallas Morning News.
According to USA Today, Woods said Sunday that Rolovich was clear that remaining aligned with the group of Pac-12 athletes who are seeking “fair treatment for college athletes,” could cloud his future with the Cougars.
The #WeAreUnited players say they have been communicating with more than 400 of their peers throughout the Pac-12. The group released a lengthy list of demands Sunday and said if they are not addressed they will not practice or play.
Their demands focused on four areas: health and safety protections, especially protocols related to COVID-19; guarding against the elimination of sports programs by schools during an economic downturn; ending racial injustice in college sports; and economic freedom and equity.
“I spoke with Kassidy Woods in a private phone conversation last Saturday afternoon. This was before the #WeAreUnited group had released its letter of concerns,” Rolovich, the former University of Hawaii head coach and quarterback, said tonight in a statement released to the media.
“Without knowing the concerns of the group, I regret that my words cautioning Kassidy have become construed as opposition. I’m proud of our players and all the Pac-12 student-athletes for using their platform, especially for matters they are passionate about. WSU football student-athletes who have expressed support for the #WeAreUnited group will continue to be welcome to all team-related activities, unless they choose to opt out for health and safety reasons.”