Nick Saban, Greg Byrne test positive for COVID-19
Alabama football coach Nick Saban and Director of Athletics Greg Byrne have both tested positive for COVID-19, a University release confirmed Wednesday afternoon. Saban led UA's Wednesday practice remotely.
“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 released through UA Athletics. "At this time, I do not have any symptoms relative to COVID, and I have taken another PCR test to confirm my diagnosis. 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."
A portion of a shared statement by Dr. Jimmy Robinson and Jeff Allen, the school's associate athletics director for sports medicine, read: "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 is scheduled to hold his usual post-practice press conference Wednesday evening.
Before this news, UA had not revealed player absences of any kind due to COVID-19 testing or other protocols. It has had no players missing from the first three games for COVID-19 reasons.
The news comes hours after LSU and Florida had to postpone their Saturday game until Dec. 12 as the Gators have had a spike in positive tests following their loss at Texas A&M, increasing from five to 19 in one day. It is the second SEC game of the week to postpone, after Vanderbilt and Missouri postponed their game on Tuesday.
Alabama is coming off of a game against Ole Miss; coach Lane Kiffin said Wednesday his team is experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak. He remained optimistic that Ole Miss could play its game this week, but likely with a restricted roster.
UA football transitioned to daily testing in the week before the regular season began, Saban said at the time as a measure for peace of mind for players.
"It’s the best thing for the players. It’s the best thing for the program. We have the capabilities and resources to do it, so we’re happy to do it," Saban said on Sept. 16. "We’ve been testing three days a week, which we didn’t have to do that either, just like we would for game week next week, but we just decided this week that we would test our guys every day.
"With that, hopefully everybody feels safe and it will help the fact that maybe we won’t have to quarantine some of the these guys, minimize exposure. Everybody’s got to sort of manage their personal space so we have the most players possible available for every game but especially the first game."
Byrne's statement said, "Today, I received notice that my COVID-19 test from this morning came back positive. Upon hearing the news, I immediately entered self-isolation and will remain at home and follow all guidelines. 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.”
Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or email@example.com or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson