University of Alabama’s head football coach Nick Saban has tested positive for Covid-19, the university said on Wednesday.
Greg Byrne, the school’s director of athletics, also tested positive, the school said.
“Early this afternoon, we received notification that Coach Saban and Greg Byrne tested positive for COVID-19,” a statement from Dr. Jimmy Robinson, the team’s physician, and Jeff Allen, the team’s director of sports medicine, said. “Both immediately left the facility and went to their homes to self-isolate after receiving that information.”
The news comes just three days out from the Crimson Tide’s critical conference showdown with visiting Georgia, slated for Saturday at 8 p.m. ET in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
“I found out earlier this afternoon that I had tested positive for COVID-19. I immediately left work and isolated at home,” Saban said in a statement, adding “At this time, I do not have any symptoms relative to COVID.”
Alabama is unbeaten on the season at 3-0, and ranked second in the Associated Press national poll. Georgia, also 3-0, is ranked third.
“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,” Saban said.
The 68-year-old Saban has been the head coach at Alabama since 2007, winning five national championships in that span. He also boasts a sixth ring earned while roaming the sidelines at Louisiana State University (LSU) in 2003.
Byrne, meanwhile, says he has entered self-isolation and will remain at home, noting in a statement that he continues “to encourage you all to take the necessary precautions to help stop the spread of this virus for yourself and those around you.”
Saban joins the likes of Florida State’s Mike Norvell, Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin, and Les Miles of Kansas as FBS head coaches who have tested positive for the coronavirus.
He told reporters he feels fine and is not concerned about his health, “but you never know,” Saban said.
“I basically feel like when we’re in our own personal bubble here I think everybody is in a much safer place,” he continued. “I think as soon as you travel you get exposed to a lot more things and a lot more people, if that makes any sense.
“I’ve worn a mask on the sidelines, and I wear a mask all the time, in the hotel, on the bus, in the plane. So, nobody really know how this occurs, but I know that our medical staff has done a really good job. And the No. 1 thing that I would be concerned about is can the players still go out, focus on the game, play the game. It’s a big game for them.”
Elsewhere in the SEC, a pair of league games have been rescheduled and moved off of Saturday’s slate. Florida-LSU as well as Vanderbilt-Missouri have been pushed to December as outbreaks of the virus have infiltrated the programs at both Florida and Vanderbilt.