The University of Alabama announced on Wednesday that Alabama coach Nick Saban and athletic director Greg Byrne had both tested positive for COVID-19. The two immediately left the facility and are now isolating at home.
Georgia and Alabama are set to play on Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET. There has been no word on how this affects the game. In its statement, Alabama announced that Saban will work from home and that offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will oversee the team.
“I found out earlier this afternoon that I had tested positive for COVID-19. I immediately left work and isolated at home. At this time, I do not have any symptoms relative to COVID,” Saban said in a statement. “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.”
Sarkisian has prior head coaching experience dating back to his time at USC and Washington. Prior to becoming Alabama’s offensive coordinator, he held the same role for the Atlanta Falcons.
Doctors Jimmy Robinson and Jeff Allen also provide statements to the school stating that Saban and Byrne were the only two individuals that tested positive at this point in time.
“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 all those around you,” Byrne said.
On Tuesday, Georgia coach Kirby Smart was asked about his team is handling the virus.
“Really no way to tell. The biggest thing is you’re one day away, one test away, one situation away from a possible situation like Florida is in,” Smart said. “We’ve been very fortunate. I think Ron (Courson) and the medical staff has done a great job for us. ”
Smart added that he felt like his players were doing a good job to this point. But he also cautioned against declaring victory on the virus just because things some to be going okay for now.
“We feel like our players do a good job but I’ll be honest with you when they’re not here at the facility I don’t always know what they’re doing,” Smart said. “The biggest concern we have is post-game, Sunday. Then they’re back in a routine Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.
“You’re one exposure, one outbreak away from losing some guys. We’ve been fortunate so far but we don’t have all our test results back this week.”
The SEC has moved two games this week due to COVID-19, as the Missouri-Vanderbilt game and the Florida-LSU game have both been moved to the week of Dec. 12 due to positive tests at Vanderbilt and Florida.
Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin mentioned that his team had some positive cases on Wednesday. Alabama played Ole Miss last week in Oxford, Miss., with the Crimson Tide winning 63-48.
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