Navy football coach fired for COVID-19 vaccine refusal: 'I continue to stand firm in my conviction of faith'

Stutzmann, who served as the offensive assistant coach, confirmed in a lengthy post on social media that he would be leaving the Midshipmen after three seasons after failing to comply with the program’s vaccine protocols.  

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“The Naval Academy Athletic Association policy regarding COVID-19 requires all coaches and staff to be vaccinated against this virus. 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 had changed these last few months,” his statement read. 

“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.”

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Head coach Ken Niumatalolo said shortly after that Stutzmann’s departure was a big loss for the team but he did not comment on his refusal to get vaccinated. 

“He’s added a lot to our program,” he said. “Wish him the best of luck, he and his wife Shanelle. Wonderful young man. Got a bright, bright future in this profession.”

After a big loss against Air Force over the weekend, longtime offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper was let go but on Monday – following news of Stutzmann’s firing – Niumatalolo announced that Jasper will stay on as the quarterbacks coach. 

“It was an unfortunate situation. There’s some emotion involved, obviously, but we just lost a big game,” he said. “I think cooler heads have prevailed.”

For now, Niumatalolo will call the plays. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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