Alabama coach Nick Saban, AD Greg Byrne test positive for COVID-19

Alabama coach Nick Saban and athletic director Greg Byrne tested positive for COVID-19, the school announced on Wednesday afternoon.

Both Saban and Byrne are now self-isolating at home.

“Early this afternoon, we received notification that Coach Saban and Greg Byrne tested positive for COVID-19,” team doctor Jimmy Robinson and trainer Jeff Allen 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 positives.”

Saban said that he is not experiencing any symptoms. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will take over in his place while he works from home, Saban said.

“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,” Saban said. “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.”

Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama coach Nick Saban and athletic director Greg Byrne tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday are now self-isolating at home. (Kent Gidley/Collegiate Images/Getty Images)

Byrne did not say if he was experiencing any symptoms.

“Upon hearing the news, I immediately entered self-isolation and will remain at home and follow all guidelines,” Byrne said. “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.”

No. 2 Alabama is set to host No. 3 Georgia in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night in the biggest game of the college football season thus far.

There have been nearly eight million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Wednesday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and more than 216,000 deaths attributed to it. The country has averaged more than 52,000 new cases per day over the past week, nearly 20,000 more cases than what it was reporting a month ago.

Alabama has had nearly 168,000 total cases, more than 6,700 of which came in the past week.

SEC’s latest COVID troubles

Saban and Byrne mark just the latest in the SEC to test positive for the coronavirus in recent days.

Florida’s upcoming game against LSU on Saturday was postponed after an outbreak among Florida players and coaches. The program paused all activities on Tuesday, days after coach Dan Mullen doubled down on his desire to pack their stadium completely full for the game despite the pandemic — something he apologized for on Wednesday.

Vanderbilt’s game with Missouri was also rescheduled on Monday after Vanderbilt wouldn’t be able to meet the player availability minimum after an outbreak there. Additionally, Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin told reporters Wednesday that his team is dealing with virus issues.

Baylor is also dealing with a major outbreak in the Big 12, and reported 28 active coronavirus cases on its team on Monday. The Bears paused all activities last week, which resulted in the postponement of their game against Oklahoma State on Saturday.

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