Alabama football manager Nick Saban, according to SEC protocol, was cleared to return to the sidelines for Saturday night’s showdown against Georgia number 3 after his third consecutive negative test for COVID-19, he said. announced the school.
Sources told ESPN that Saban had been informed that he had been allowed to return a little before 12:30. ET, and he immediately left his home with a state agent to go straight to the team’s hotel and was able to attend meetings before 1pm. ET.
Alabama team physician Dr. Jimmy Robinson said in a statement that Saban had negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests at 7:00 am on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday after a positive initial test on Wednesday. The school added two additional PCR tests, from Thursday and Friday, were taken “for an abundance of caution”
“Due to the fact that Coach Saban remained completely symptom-free and had five negative PCR tests, split between two separate labs, Wednesday’s initial test is considered a false positive under SEC protocols,” Robinson said. “… In accordance with the SEC Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force protocol and with the approval of the University of Alabama System Health and Safety Task Force, Coach Saban is medically authorized to safely return to activity with immediate effect.”
The Saturday morning test was sent to a SEC-approved lab in Mobile, Alabama for a quick turnaround.
Robinson said in his statement that university officials 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 will turn 69 at the end of the month, tested positive for COVID-19. He immediately left Mal M. Moore’s athletic facility and began isolating himself at home.
SEC guidelines state that if an individual has three subsequent negative PCR tests through an SEC-designated laboratory, each within 24 hours, and remains asymptomatic, the initial test would be considered a false positive and the individual may be released from the ‘isolation and medically cleared to return to athletics activities.
On Friday, Alabama said that Saban’s initial positive test result came from an external laboratory that the university used to supplement the tests required by the SEC.
A source close to Saban told ESPN they assumed from the outset the initial test was a false positive because she never had any symptoms or had a fever.
“He didn’t even sniff,” the source said.
Saban was not at the football complex for the second half of the week, but conducted team and staff meetings via Zoom and watched training on a live feed from home – in a high angle view – and communicated with the coaches. with his cell phone if he wanted to redo some part of the practice.
A staff member told ESPN that Saban may not have been there physically, but that he was definitely there in spirit and didn’t miss a thing from home.
“You haven’t seen him out there, but it’s almost like he’s never left,” the staff said.
Saban appeared at ESPN’s College GameDay Saturday morning from his home and acknowledged that he felt “a little detached” this week, but that he was virtually involved with the team and staff in everything they did in both training and training. in meetings.
“Even though they aren’t there, the attendance was the same,” Saban said.
Alabama Athletic Director Greg Byrne, also tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday, Saturday posted on Twitter that he “feels pretty good”, but that he is still at home following protocol and will not participate in the match against the Bulldogs.
Thanks for all the prayers and good wishes of the last days! I feel pretty good 👍🏼.
Home following protocol (as I watch 🏈 of course), so I’ll miss being at the game tonight. It should be a great atmosphere! Please continue to disguise and socially distance yourself.#RollTide 😷🐘
– Greg Byrne (@Greg_Byrne) October 17, 2020
Sources told ESPN that Alabama had no positive tests among its players in this latest round of testing and expects to be in full swing for the Bulldogs’ visit to Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Saban told GameDay that Alabama has conducted 240 tests in the past two days and all of them were negative. Saban said he tested negative on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday before Wednesday’s positive test.
“I have to trust the doctors and physicians who make these protocols safe for all of us,” Saban said. “Our players have done a good job of practicing social distancing and this experience has given me a lot of respect for what we should be doing … And we will continue to do so in the future.”