Alabama coach Nick Saban tests positive for COVID-19

Alabamas’s Crimson Tide may have to play Saturday’s game without their coach.

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Alabama head coach Nick Saban announced Wednesday that he has contracted COVID-19. “I immediately left work and isolated at home,” said Saban per Politico.

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The coach told his team via Zoom that he’d tested positive and that offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will oversee pregame responsibilities while he is absent.

This news comes just days before the SEC’s marquee matchup of Alabama vs. Georgia. The team’s athletic director, Greg Byrne, also tested positive for the virus. Both men say their positive tests came back on Wednesday though Saban said he did not have any symptoms.

“Early this afternoon, we received notification that Coach Saban and (AD) Greg Byrne tested positive for COVID-19,” Alabama’s Jimmy Robinson and Jeff Allen, the top health experts for the Crimson Tide, said in a statement. “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 positive.”

According to Sports Illustrated, Saban, 68, took all of the necessary procedures trying to not contract the virus. When he spoke with reporters via Zoom call he said, “I was very surprised by this.”

Alabama v Duke
Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide has the Old Leather Helmet put on his head by his players after their 42-3 win over the Duke Blue Devils at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on August 31, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

But Shane Speights, dean of the NYIT medical school at Arkansas State who oversees testing at ASU says, “At the end of the day, the virus doesn’t care if you want to play football.”

Saban told the publication that although he diligently followed coronavirus restrictions he admits he did do some traveling.

“As soon as you travel, you get exposed to a lot more people,” he said. “I wear a mask on the sideline, on the plane. Nobody really knows how this occurs.”

But despite his test results, Saban appears to be in high spirits. He watches his team practice and talks to them afterward via Zoom until he takes his second test.

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“I did a good job of managing my personal space,” he says. “You have to respect this disease and the spread of this disease. My message is, adhere to protocol: wear a mask, wash your hands, social distance.”

Alabama’s Crimson Tide is ranked second and will face the #3 ranked Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday at 8 p.m.

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