Navy assistant football coach Billy Ray Stutzmann was fired on Monday in response to his refusal to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
An early report from Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo stated that Stutzmann had left the program for “personal reasons.” However, a social media post from Stutzmann says that the academy fired him after refusing to take the vaccine for religious reasons.
“After much thought and prayer, I am unable to follow the requirements,” Stutzmann wrote.
— Billy Ray Stutzmann (@BRayStutzmann) September 13, 2021
“Stutzmann said the Naval Academy Athletics Association’s vaccination policy went against his religious convictions,” USA Today Sports reported. “Team spokesman Scott Strasemeier confirmed to USA TODAY Sports that the school’s athletic department instituted a vaccine mandate.”
Stutzmann says that he applied for a religious exemption to the academy’s vaccine mandate, but his request was refused.
MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP via Getty Images
“After applying for a religious exemption and attempting to further negotiate alternative working arrangements, I was ultimately relieved of my duties here at Navy,” Stutzmann explained. “I continue to stand firm in my conviction of faith, but I understand and respect that each individual and institution as a choice on how they wish to manage these issues.”
“He’s added a lot to our program,” Niumatalolo told the Associated Press. “Wish him the best of luck, he and his wife Shanelle. Wonderful young man. Got a bright, bright future in this profession.”
Stutzmann is not the only football coach to encounter controversy when it comes to the vaccine. Earlier in the summer, it was reported that Vikings assistant Rick Dennison had been fired for refusing the vaccine. Instead, the coach had requested an exemption to receive the vaccine and was ultimately reassigned to a different job within the organization.