Longtime ESPN college football and basketball sideline reporter Allison Williams has announced that she will not be covering college football this season after she decided against getting the coronavirus vaccine.
Williams was absent from the beginning of the college football season following her announcement that she would not get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“While my work is incredibly important to me, the most important role I have is as a mother,” Williams said in a statement on Twitter. “Throughout our family planning with our doctor, as well as a fertility specialist, I have decided not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at this time while my husband and I try for a second child.”
“This was a deeply difficult decision to make and it’s not something I take lightly,” she wrote. “I understand vaccines have been essential in the effort to end this pandemic; however, taking the vaccine at this time is not in my best interest.”
“After a lot of prayer and deliberation, I have decided I must put my family and personal health first. I will miss being on the sidelines and am thankful for the support of my ESPN family. I look forward to when I can return to the games and job that I love,” Williams stated.
This will be the first fall in the last 15 years I won’t be on the sidelines for College Football.
My heart hurts posting this but I’m at peace with my decision. pic.twitter.com/np5V3gdrfW
— Allison Williams (@AllisonW_Sports) September 9, 2021
Williams’ departure follows star analysts baseball Hall-of-Famer John Smoltz and former All-Star Al Leiter no longer being allowed to enter MLB Network’s studios after refusing to get the vaccine. They will reportedly continue contributing to the network remotely, despite not being allowed in their studios according to the New York Post.
Williams is not the only one to take a leave of absence from ESPN during the 2021 season. ESPN analyst Todd McShay announced Tuesday that he would be taking one following Week 1 to focus more on his family and his health according to Yahoo! Sports.
ESPN notified its 5,500 employees who travel to events in May that they were required to be vaccinated by Aug. 1.
Walt Disney, who owns ESPN, subsequently said in late July that all employees had to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. The deadline for that policy is Sept. 30. The implied consequence is that if you don’t get vaccinated, you will lose your job.
“We are requiring that all salaried and non-union hourly employees in the U.S. working at any of our sites be fully vaccinated,” the company said in a statement according to The Hill.
“Employees who aren’t already vaccinated and are working on-site will have 60 days from today to complete their protocols and any employees still working from home will need to provide verification of vaccination prior to their return, with certain limited exceptions,” the statement added.
The sidelines reporter had been with ESPN since 2011. She moved to Saturday college football coverage in 2016, working with play-by-play voice Bob Wischusen and analyst Dan Orlovsky. Williams has also worked with ESPN’s lead college football broadcast crew featuring Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler.
When asked about Williams’ departure, ESPN commented, “We aren’t going to comment on an individual. We are going through a thorough review of accommodation requests on a case by case basis, and are granting accommodations where warranted. Our focus is on a safe work environment for everyone.”
On Thursday, via Instagram, Williams addressed her leaving ESPN over getting vaccinated, saying the past few months have been “one of the most difficult days of my life as I grapple with decisions I never thought would have to make.”
Williams found ample support on social media for sticking to her beliefs:
well done girl! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
— Zack Atack🕒 (@zackFua) September 9, 2021
I applaud her decision in putting her family first.
— Lauri Wallus (@LaurieW27179918) September 9, 2021
I’m not a anti-vaxxer. In fact, I’ve lost count of the different vaccines I’ve ever taken, but I respect her decision and I think it’s a damn shame if it turns out she has indeed been forced out of her post.
— Nzeugma ⚛️ (@Spawntayneous) September 9, 2021
Good for her
— Mike (@M_jopink) September 9, 2021
She has every right to make this decision
Not sure it’s based on hard science but it’s her body
— TheJudge (@dctrhps) September 9, 2021
Good for her!
— Optimist Pryme (@dbb713713) September 9, 2021
— Court Meechelle My 🛎 (@CourtMeechelle) September 9, 2021
I am so proud of this woman.
— crux416 (@crux4161) September 9, 2021
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