Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin wanted the focus to be on football Monday.
Harsin declined to comment on whether or not he’s been vaccinated against COVID-19 when asked Monday. The question comes three days after Auburn University announced a mandate requiring all faculty members to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
“I’m aware of the new policy,” Harsin said. “I appreciate you have to ask the question and understand it, but you know, that doesn’t change. The executive order, all those things, that doesn’t change the fact that I’m not going to discuss any individual’s decision or status on the vaccine or anyone else’s, including my own, like I said before.
“From the beginning, I think I’ve made it clear that I wasn’t – you know, that wasn’t something that I was going to talk about or discuss. I wasn’t going to go down that road and don’t feel like right now that’s any different. We’re focused on Ole Miss.”
Harsin tested positive for COVID-19 on Aug. 20 during the Tigers’ fall camp. The first-year Tigers head coach’s positive test required him to isolate for 10 days.
During Harsin’s absence, inside linebackers coach Jeff Schmedding acted as head coach.
“Just like in a game, teams that handle adversity and make necessary adjustments are those that are most successful,” Harsin said in a statement following his positive test. “I have full confidence in our coaching staff and team. I know they will continue to prepare with the same intensity and focus that they have since camp started.”
Harsin was asked about his stance on vaccinations during SEC Media Days on July 22. He emphasized the importance of educating Auburn’s players and stressed that getting the vaccine was a personal choice.
“Our players are being educated. Dr. [Michael] Goodlett does a phenomenal job of educating our players. We have the best in the business, alright, so all that stuff as far as vaccinations, those are explained to our players,” Harsin said. “The one thing about this — I mean, this is a personal decision. It’s deeply personal for a lot of people. And so, that’s how we approach it: here’s the information, you make the decision.”
Harsin declined to share his vaccination status later that day.
Auburn University announced Friday all employees are required to be fully vaccinated no later than Dec. 8. Exceptions will be made only in limited circumstances where an employee is legally entitled to a medical or religious accommodation.
Auburn advised that, since individuals achieve fully vaccinated status two weeks after their last dose of the vaccine, employees will have to start the vaccination process by the dates listed in order to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8:
» Moderna: First dose by Oct. 27 and second dose by Nov. 24
» Pfizer: First dose by Nov. 3 and second dose by Nov. 24
» Johnson & Johnson: Dose needed by Nov. 24
The university said at least 82 percent of its employees receiving university-sponsored benefits are either fully or partially vaccinated as of Oct. 21.
The vaccination status of college football coaches has been a topic of conversation around the sport, especially in the last month.
Former Washington State head coach Nick Rolovich drew attention after refusing to receive the vaccine despite the state of Washington’s requirement. Rolovich was relieved of his duties as Cougars head coach on Oct. 19 in the midst of his second season with the team.
Washington State assistants Ricky Logo, John Richardson, Craig Stutzmann and Mark Weber were also relieved after declining to be vaccinated.
Justin Lee contributed to this report.