ESPN's Allison Williams will be absent from the network's college football coverage this fall.
Williams has been with ESPN since March 2011 and does sideline reporting for the network's college football and college basketball coverage. She didn't cover a game in Week 1 of the college football season and said Thursday that she wouldn't be a part of any game coverage in 2021 because she hasn't received the COVID-19 vaccine as she and her husband attempt to have a second child.
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
"While my work is incredibly important to me, the most important role I have is as a mother. 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. 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."
The overwhelming guidance of major health groups and organizations is that the vaccine has no impact on fertility.
While Williams wasn't on the sideline in Week 1, she continued to host her podcast with fellow ESPN reporters Molly McGrath and Kris Budden. Williams had been working games with ESPN's Bob Wischusen and Dan Orlovsky in 2020.
Disney announced in August that all employees — including those who work for ESPN — are required to get vaccinated.
“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,” Disney said in its statement announcing the vaccine mandate. “Vaccines are the best tool we all have to help control this global pandemic and protect our employees.”
Williams is the second ESPN sideline reporter to announce an absence during the 2021 season. ESPN analyst Todd McShay said Tuesday that he would be taking a leave of absence after Week 1 to focus on his family and his health.
Williams and her husband welcomed their first child, a boy, in July 2019.