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Nick Saban tests positive for COVID-19

Alabama head football coach Nick Saban & Athletic Director Greg Byrne both tested positive for COVID-19
Credit: Getty Images
Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide on the field watching his team warm up before a game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama coach Nick Saban and athletic director Greg Byrne have tested positive for COVID-19, three days before the second-ranked Crimson Tide is set to face No. 3 Georgia in a clash of Southeastern Conference and national powers.

Coach Saban was informed of the positive test by the training staff and left the football facility immediately.

Both said their tests Wednesday morning came back positive, but Saban said he didn't have any symptoms by late afternoon.   

“I immediately left work and isolated at home,” Saban said.  

The second-ranked Crimson Tide is set to face No. 3 Georgia on Saturday, and may be without their iconic 68-year-old coach who remained scheduled to talk with the media Wednesday evening.  

Saban said he informed the team via a Zoom session at 2 p.m. Wednesday and that offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will oversee game preparations while he works from home.  

Sarkisian is a former head coach at Washington and USC. Saban has led Alabama to five national titles since taking over the program in 2007, and also won one at LSU.   

It was a nother body blow for the SEC, which had postponed two games this week already: No. 10 Florida against defending national champion LSU and Missouri-Vanderbilt.  

Alabama's head trainer Jeff Allen and medical director Jimmy Robinson said in a joint statement that Saban and Byrne were the only initial positive tests.  

“All individuals who are considered high risk contacts have been notified and will follow quarantine guidelines,” the statement said. "We will follow the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force Protocol for testing asymptomatic positives.”  

Byrne said he would “remain at home and follow all guidelines.”  

"We’ve been diligent about mask wearing and social distancing from the start and want to continue to encourage you all to take the necessary precautions to help stop the spread of this virus for yourself and those around you,” the 48-year-old AD said.

Statement from Dr. Jimmy Robinson and Jeff Allen

“Early this afternoon, we received notification that Coach Saban and Greg Byrne tested positive for COVID-19. Both immediately left the facility and went to their homes to self-isolate after receiving that information. At this point in time, the positive tests are limited to those two individuals. All individuals who are considered high risk contacts have been notified and will follow quarantine guidelines. We will follow the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force Protocol for testing asymptomatic positives.”

 

Statement from Alabama Head Football Coach Nick Saban

“I found out earlier this afternoon that I had tested positive for COVID-19. I immediately left work and isolated at home. At this time, I do not have any symptoms relative to COVID, and I have taken another PCR test to confirm my diagnosis. I informed our team of my positive test at 2 p.m. today on a Zoom call and let them know offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will oversee preparations at the complex while I work from home.”

 

Statement from Alabama Director of Athletics Greg Byrne

“Today, I received notice that my COVID-19 test from this morning came back positive. Upon hearing the news, I immediately entered self-isolation and will remain at home and follow all guidelines. We’ve been diligent about mask wearing and social distancing from the start and want to continue to encourage you all to take the necessary precautions to help stop the spread of this virus for yourself and those around you.”