Washington State football coach Nick Rolovich expressed regret Monday about how his remarks were construed in a recorded phone conversation with Cougars receiver Kassidy Woods.

In a statement released by the school Monday night, Rolovich said his talk with Woods on Saturday came before he’s learned exactly what a group of Pac-12 players were demanding in a threatened boycott, explained in an article Sunday in The Players Tribune.

“Without knowing the concerns of the group, I regret that my words cautioning Kassidy have become construed as opposition,” Rolovich 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.

“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.”

Woods, after telling his coach during his phone conversation that he supported the players threatening a boycott, Rolovich said that could be “an issue as far as future stuff.” Woods evidently took that as a threat and later told a USA Today reporter Sunday that he thought he’d been dismissed from the team after being ordered to clear out his locker.

Earlier in the phone conversation, Woods had told Rolovich he planned to sit out the 2020 season because of a medical condition that raised his concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

Rolovich then assured him that such a stance is within his rights. The Pac-12 and WSU have vowed to honor the scholarships and roster spots of players who bow out because of the pandemic. The coach’s “future stuff” comment apparently referred to 2021 and beyond.

“I spoke with Kassidy Woods in a private phone conversation last Saturday afternoon,” Rolovich said in a statement. “This was before the #WeAreUnited group had released its letter of concerns. Kassidy informed me he was opting out of this season for health and safety concerns. I wanted to clarify with Kassidy that his decision was based on health and safety and reaffirm our policy related to COVID-19 and the assurance of his scholarship.”

For a stretch on Sunday, confusion reigned on social media as many tweeters seemed to think Rolovich had explicitly dismissed Woods for opting out of the 2020 season. Later in the day, Woods posted his phone conversation on SoundCloud.

Dale Grummert may be contacted at daleg@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2290.

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