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Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban tests positive for Covid-19

Sources say he is experiencing mild symptoms and will not be allowed to coach in the Iron Bowl this weekend.
Credit: University of Alabama

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama head football coach Nick Saban has tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of the 85th Iron Bowl. According to the school's athletic department, Saban is experiencing mild symptoms and will not be allowed to coach in this weekend's game against Auburn. 

The university released the following statement:

“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.”

Saban said he’s the only one in the program to test positive. 

he No. 1 Crimson Tide are set to face their biggest rival Saturday, with home-field advantage at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa but without the 69-year-old, six-time national champion coach. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, former head coach at USC and Washington, will oversee preparations in the football building and with the team on gameday.                                                              

Saban said he has had a runny nose, but no major symptoms. He had previously received a false positive ahead of the game with Georgia but didn’t have any symptoms that time.

Last month, Saban tested positive ahead of the Georgia game. That test was deemed a false positive after multiple negative tests returned after the initial positive test. Today's positive test will not be considered a false positive since the coach is experiencing mild symptoms. 

"It was a PCR test which was different than the false positive that I had before," Saban said on the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference. "I don't really have any cardinal signs of the virus right now. I don't have a fever, no loss of taste or smell, no fatigue, no muscle aches.                                                      

"I informed the team this morning at 10 on a Zoom call. I'm the only person in the whole organization who tested positive this round."                             

Saban will still run meetings and monitor practice via Zoom at home like he did ahead of the Georgia game. Sarkisian will still call offensive plays during the game, but Saban said other details were still to be ironed out.                         

"Last time I did this for three days, I absolutely did everything from home that I did in the office," Saban said. "I just did it on Zoom."

Saban said he has no idea how he got the virus, and it wasn't immediately clear if anybody else within the program will be affected because of close contact. Saban believes that's unlikely "based on how we manage things internally in the building."

"I'm around nobody. I mean, I go home and I go to the office," Saban said. "I have no idea. Now, there are some people in and out of our house on occasion, but I have no idea how this happened. We really practice social tracing, social distancing, all the things that we need to do to be safe.                                       

"We're always six feet apart in meetings. We have staff meetings in large rooms. Everyone is required and we all wear masks. Players all wear masks in meetings."