Alabama football coach Nick Saban is getting behind a state effort to promote more people to get vaccinated from COVID-19.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Saban has engaged in a public service announcement that will air next week and will even contain SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, former Auburn basketball star Charles Barkley and former Auburn head coach-turned-U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville.
Saban, according to a recording of this PSA obtained by the Journal, states that fans and players both want full stadiums from the autumn.
"Please get your COVID-19 vaccine. We need Bryant-Denny Stadium loud again this coming season -- and Roll Tide!"
In a statement released Friday afternoon, say health officials thanked Saban and other high-profile sports figures for their public reinforcement of COVID-19 vaccinations.
"The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is very pleased that Coach Nick Saban and other notable sports figures, including Charles Barkley, are encouraging Alabamians to take COVID-19 vaccine," the statement read. "Alabamians have good respect for the opinions of those important leaders in the world of sport. ADPH enjoys this partnership, as we work together as you, to guard the health and well being of our state."
Saban also engaged in a PSA last year about wearing masks and preserving social distancing.
According to the newest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, Alabama has fully vaccinated 25 percent of its residents, which is among the cheapest rates in the country.
Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne has said that the plan is for Bryant-Denny Stadium to function at full capacity this year.
Byrne told ESPN's Heather Dinich that he hasn't determined yet if there will be a vaccination requirement for lovers, but he"would be surprised if there was a requirement."
"We are very hopeful that individuals will continue to get vaccinated and that the numbers reflect as far as where COVID starts going," Byrne said. "But we also know how much college football and college sports signifies in the SEC, and we know that you listen to the medical experts, the way we move forward is for people to get vaccinated, and we feel hopeful that the fantastic majority of our fans will accomplish that."
Sankey, who said he has been fully vaccinated, advised Dinich on Monday that policies for enthusiasts -- including mask sporting and vaccinations -- will largely be dependent upon local and state policies rather than sweeping leaguewide mandates.
"We do want to be clear about our messaging and encouraging vaccinations, since that will cause these management problems much more clear," he explained. "Those will likely be ongoing points of dialogue and discussion."