Sara Evans Opens Up About Quitting “Dancing With The Stars” During Divorce

Sara Evans reflects on her time on Dancing with the Stars

(Left) Adam Larkey / Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images / (Right) Sara Evans / YouTube

Sara Evans Competed On Dancing With The Stars During Season 3

Country singer Sara Evans competed on one of the earliest seasons of Dancing with the Stars. She was a contestant on Season 3 in 2006 and danced alongside her professional partner Tony Dovolani.

She earned a high score of 25 during Week 3 for a jive she and Tony performed to Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.”

But behind all the glitz and glamour of Dancing with the Stars, Sara was going through a tough time in her personal life.

Sara filed for divorce from her husband, Craig Schelske, on October 12, 2006. Then, in a pre-taped interview that aired on October 17, Sara announced she was quitting DWTS.

She told the show’s host Tom Bergeron she, “would have a nervous breakdown” if she stayed. She wanted to go home and be with her three children, who were between the ages of two and seven at the time.

Sara withdrew before the sixth week of the competition.

Sara Recalls Leaving The Show Amid “Horiffic” Divorce

18 years later, Sara Evans is opening up about why she had to quit Dancing with the Stars.

Sara shared her story on an episode of her new podcast, Diving in Deep

The Grand Ole Opry member said her marriage started deteriorating about six months before she started DWTS. Once she started the show, Sara missed her children terribly, since her busy schedule didn’t allow for much family time. She described it as a “really really really horrific” experience.

“I would be on Dancing with the Stars, and you could see some of the episodes, my eyes were just blood red swollen because I’d been crying the whole day, missing my kids,” she said.

She continued, “I was killing myself. It was so exhausting. “I remember getting up at 3 AM and doing hair and makeup to be on all these morning shows… It was one of the hardest times in my life.”


Meanwhile, Sara knew she “needed to get out” of her marriage to Craig. But she “didn’t believe in divorce,” and tried to make things work.

Why Did Sara Evans Quit Dancing With The Stars?

But everything changed in October 2006. Following an alleged incident between Sara and Craig at The Grove shopping center in Los Angeles (which Tony Dovolani stepped in to defuse), Sara filed for divorce.

The alleged incident seems to have happened in front of Sara and Craig’s children.

I had to quit Dancing with the Stars because the next day we were going to start the group dance rehearsals and because of the trauma that my children went through at the restaurant, I said, ‘I’m quitting,'” Sara recalled on her podcast.

DWTS told Sara she could withdraw from the competition if she gave an interview to explain her departure. That’s when she filmed the conversation with Tom Bergeron.

At the time, she didn’t go into specifics about the incident that led to her filing for divorce. She simply said “something happened” and told Tom:

It’s very personal, it’s very traumatic and it was very hard for my children. Things drastically went downhill 100 miles an hour.”

Sara Evans recently opened up about why she had to leave "Dancing with the Stars"
Sara Evans / Facebook

Sara and Craig’s divorce was finalized in 2007. She married radio personality Jay Barker in 2008.

Jay and Sara eventually separated, and Sara filed for divorce in 2021. Then, in 2022, Jay Barker was arrested and charged with felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after allegedly attempting to use his car to hit Evans’ car.

During an earlier episode of her Diving in Deep podcast, Sara revealed that she and Jay have reconciled.

Check out the video below to hear Sara Evans talk more about her experience on Dancing with the Stars and the emotional toll she was under during that time.