Alabama coach Nick Saban has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently in isolation at home, the university announced Wednesday.
Saban, 68, is not experiencing any symptoms of the coronavirus, he said in a statement. The announcement comes just three days before No. 2 Alabama is set to meet No. 3 Georgia at home in one of the biggest games of the regular season.
"I found out earlier this afternoon that I had tested positive for COVID-19. I immediately left work and isolated at home," Saban said, adding that Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian "will oversee preparations at the complex while I work from home."
Alabama athletics director Greg Byrne also tested positive, the university said.
According to a statement attributed to Dr. Jimmy Robinson, the head physician for Alabama athletics, and Jeff Allen, the director of sports medicine, Saban and Byrne are only two athletics department staffers to test positive for COVID-19.
"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.”
A six-time national champion, Saban is the most high-profile figure in college football, and perhaps in all of American sports, to publicly announce a positive test for COVID-19.
He has also been a vocal proponent of obeying coronavirus protocols, even filming multiple videos during the late spring and early summer to stress the importance of wearing a mask.
According to guidelines offered by the SEC Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force, which based its finding on guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, student-athletes who test positive "will require isolation for at least 10 full days with day 0 starting at the onset of symptoms or the day of testing, if asymptomatic."
Earlier this week, the SEC issued a memo to coaches and athletics directors stressing the need to follow COVID-19 guidelines at the risk of fines and suspensions.
Several Bowl Subdivision programs, including those in other Power Five leagues such as the ACC, have been forced to play games without at least one full-time assistant. Florida State played Miami last month without head coach Mike Norvell, who was unable to coach at the game due to a positive result.
In all, four FBS head coaches have c
Alabama's announcement comes as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on SEC schedules. Earlier on Wednesday, Florida and LSU canceled Saturday's game due to a surge in cases. That followed Monday's decision by the SEC to postpone a game between Missouri and Vanderbilt.
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