Alabama football coach Nick Saban, according to SEC protocol, has been released to return to the sidelines for the fight against number 3 in Georgia after the third consecutive negative test for COVID-19, the school said.
Sources told ESPN that Saban was informed that he was allowed to return shortly before 12:30 pm ET, and he immediately left his home with a state soldier to go straight to the team’s hotel and was able to join meetings before 13:00 ET.
Alabama doctor Dr. Jimmy Robinson said in a statement that Saban performed negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests at 7 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday after an initial positive test on Wednesday. The school added two additional PCR tests, Thursday and Friday, were taken “out of caution”
“Due to the fact that Coach Saban remains completely asymptomatic and has five negative PCR tests divided between two separate laboratories, the initial test on Wednesday was considered false positive under SEC protocols,” Robinson said. “… In accordance with the Protocol of the Working Group on Return to Activity and Medical Management and with the approval of the Working Group on Health and Safety of the University of Alabama System, Coach Saban was medically authorized to return safely to work immediately. effective. “
The test was transferred Saturday morning to an SEC-approved lab in Mobile, Alabama, for a quick turnaround.
Robinson said in a statement that university staff had been in constant communication with the conference office throughout the process to ensure compliance with all applicable protocols.
Alabama announced Wednesday that Saban, who turns 69 later this month, was positive for COVID-19. He immediately left the Mal M. Moore Athletic Center and began to isolate himself at home.
The SEC guidelines state that if a person has three consecutive negative PCR tests through a laboratory appointed by the SEC every 24 hours and remains asymptomatic, the initial test will be considered false positive and the person may be released from isolation and medically cleared until return to athletic activities.
On Friday, Alabama said the initial positive result of Saban’s test came from an outside lab that the university used to supplement the test authorized by the SEC.
A source close to Saban told ESPN that from the beginning he felt that the initial test was false positive because he had never had any symptoms or had a fever.
“He didn’t even smell it,” the source said.
Saban was not at the football complex during the second half of the week, but held team and staff meetings via Zoom and watched live training from home – with a high-angle view from the camera – and communicated with coaches by mobile phone if it wanted to be reworked. part of the practice.
An employee told ESPN that Saban may not have been there physically, but he was definitely there in spirit and did not miss anything from his home.
“You haven’t seen him there, but it’s almost as if he never left,” the official said.
Saban showed up at ESPN’s GameSPay College on Saturday morning from his home and admitted that he felt “a little detached” this week, but that he stayed with the team and staff in everything they did both in training and in training. and meetings.
“Even though I’m not there, the presence is the same,” Saban said.
Alabama’s Atlantic director Greg Byrne, who also tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, tweeted that he was “feeling pretty good” but was still home by protocol and would not attend the match against the Bulldog.
Thank you for all the prayers and wishes for the last few days! I feel pretty good 👍🏼.
At home on protocol (while watching 🏈, of course), so I’ll miss being at the game tonight. It must be a great atmosphere! Please continue to disguise social distance. # RollTide 😷🐘
– Greg Byrne (@Greg_Byrne) October 17, 2020
Sources told ESPN that Alabama has not tested positive among its players in this latest round of tests and expects to be in full force for the Bulldogs to visit Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Saban told GameDay that Alabama had conducted 240 tests in the past two days and all were negative. Saban said he took a negative test on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday before the positive test on Wednesday.
“I have to trust the doctors and medical professionals who make these protocols safe for all of us,” Saban said. “Our players did a good job practicing social distancing, and that experience made me have a lot of respect for what we have to do. … And we will continue to do so in the future.”