Nick Saban, the Alabama coach who tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesdaywas “medically cleared” to run the secondary Crimson Tide during Saturday night’s game against Georgia No. 3, the university said.
Under the Southeast Conference According to health protocols, Saban was allowed to leave isolation much earlier than expected as he was asymptomatic and tested negative for the virus three times in the days after his first positive result. This series of negative tests, conducted by a conference-approved laboratory, led Alabama and conference officials to conclude that Saban received a false positive on Wednesday.
Alabama also said Saban went through two additional tests that were processed by another lab and returned as negative.
“Trainer Saban is medically relieved to be able to be active again with immediate effect,” said Dr. Jimmy Robinson, a team doctor, in a statement Saturday, adding that Saban “has remained completely symptom-free”.
With Saban, who has won five national championships in Alabama, on the sidelines at home at Bryant Denny Stadium, Crimson Tide fans will be delighted, discouraging Georgia believers, and almost certainly new debates on the college’s response Football to stimulate the pandemic.
At least 32 Football Bowl Subdivision games, including two in the SEChave been postponed or canceled due to virus-related reasons since late August, and hundreds of players, coaches and staff have tested positive in the past few months.
But the world of college football was still stunned when 68-year-old Saban announced on Wednesday that he had tested positive for the virus and was isolated at his home in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The result came from what is believed to be the most reliable test for the virus, a polymerase chain reaction test known as PCR
Saban, who was often seen wearing a mask during the Games, and university officials repeatedly claimed he had no symptoms and kept an active schedule, exercising remotely and appearing on a radio show Thursday night.
On Friday afternoon, Alabama said Saban tested negative at his first follow-up screening Thursday. The announcement raised hopes in Tuscaloosa – and Athens, Georgia, home of the Bulldogs – that Saban could go to work on Saturday.
Less than 24 hours later, Robinson said Saban recorded more negative tests.
Under a new SEC processa person who tests positive can get a new P.C.R. Exam. If this test shows a negative result, the subject can add two more P.C.R. Tests, separated by 24 hours.
If these tests also produce negative results and the person remains asymptomatic, the player, coach or staff member may be “released from isolation and medically released only to return to athletic activities,” according to league guidelines. A third party selected by the SEC is to process the tests.
The league’s presidents and chancellors approved the policy on October 8, and the conference included it in an update of its medical protocols on Monday, two days before Saban tested positive for the virus.
“I have to trust the doctors and medical professionals who are making these protocols safe for all of us,” said Saban, who for months publicly urged fans to follow the public health recommendations, said Saturday on ESPN while listening to the outcome of the Morning test.
He added, “Our players did a good job of practicing social distancing and I think this experience certainly made me have a lot of respect for what we should all be doing in terms of social distancing, that Wearing a mask and washing our hands remain separate, and we will continue to do so. “
Saturday’s game is one of the most anticipated games of the season and could go a long way in shaping the flight path of the race to the college football playoff. If the conference lab had not got three negative results for Saban in the past few days, he would not have been able to train in the stadium or from home during the game.
Saban has been 5-1 against Georgia since arriving in Alabama in 2007. Kirby Smart, who has worked for Saban in Alabama for nine seasons, is Georgia coach.