TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama Crimson Tide football coach Nick Saban has tested positive for COVID-19, the university said in a release on Wednesday, noting that he only had mild symptoms.
It is the second time Saban was testing positive test for coronavirus. The veteran coach returned a positive test last month, but had three successive negative tests and was cleared to coach in the win over Georgia.
“This morning we received notification that Coach Saban tested positive for COVID-19. He has very mild symptoms, so this test will not be categorized as a potential false positive. He will follow all appropriate guidelines and isolate at home,” the school said in a statement.
The news Wednesday could keep Saban from coaching Alabama against Auburn on Saturday, although the Tides are hoping for a repeat of what happened leading up to the Bulldogs’ game.
Although the medical staff came to the conclusion that Saban’s previous positive test a month ago could be determined as a false positive, the fact that the experienced coach is symptomatic, means this can’t be taken lightly.
“This test will not be categorized as a potential false positive,” team physician Dr. Jimmy Robinson and head athletic trainer Jeff Allen said in the statement.
“He will follow all appropriate guidelines and isolate at home.”
The 69-year-old Saban added: “Based on how we manage things internally in the building, I can’t see any issues with coaches and the players. But that’s up to [the contact tracing officials].”
Alabama is currently preparing for Saturday’s Iron Bowl matchup against the Auburn Tigers, with the Crimson Tide working in full pads for two hours on Tuesday afternoon.
Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who previously coached at USC and Washington, and had been designated for head-coaching duties after Saban’s positive test in October, will lead the team with Saban ruled out against Auburn.
“We won’t change anything other than some of the administrative, game-day decisions he’ll have to be involved in,” Saban said.
“You have to be able to deal with disruptions this year, and I think our players have been pretty mature about doing that,” Saban added. “So we just want to carry on the best we can.
“[Auburn] has a very good team and they’re playing really well right now, so it will be a real challenge for us and we just have to continue to have great preparation.”