Alabama football coach Nick Saban and athletic director Greg Byrne have tested positive for COVID-19, the school announced Wednesday. News of the positive tests came just three days before the No. 2 Crimson Tide are scheduled to host No. 3 Georgia in one of the most-anticipated college football games of the season on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET in the SEC on CBS Game of the Week.
On Thursday, Alabama confirmed Saban's test was not a false positive for COVID-19 with an update on his condition: "Coach Saban was evaluated by our team physician Dr. Jimmy Robinson today. Coach remains asymptomatic at this point and is doing fine. He is continuing to self-isolate and will remain in the SEC testing protocol while being evaluated daily."
The Alabama athletic department's top medical personnel Jimmy Robinson and Jeff Allen announced Saban's initial diagnosis in a short statement Wednesday: "Early this afternoon, we received notification that Coach Saban and (AD) 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 positive."
Saban, who turns 69 this month, said in a statement that he plans to work from home while offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian handles team preparations at the Alabama football complex.
"I found out earlier this afternoon that I had tested positive for COVID-19," Saban said. "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."
Byrne, 48, noted in a statement that the Tide have "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 the virus for yourself and those around you."
Saban's positive test comes as the SEC grapples with its most severe COVID-19 issues yet since beginning its season in late September.that they are postponing their game originally scheduled for Saturday until Dec. 12 as the Gators are dealing with an outbreak. That followed news earlier in the week that the Missouri-Vanderbilt game will also be postponed until Dec. 12 as Vanderbilt deals with its own outbreak. Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said Wednesday that there is also an outbreak within his program.
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