COVID-19 has now affected arguably the biggest name and most prominent face in college football. The University of Alabama announced Wednesday that Nick Saban has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Athletic director Greg Byrne also received a positive result. According to the school, both Saban and Byrne left the Crimson Tide’s football facility and went home to self-isolate.
In a separate statement, Saban said he currently isn’t experiencing any symptoms. Via WAFF 48 in Huntsville:
“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, 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.”
The Tuscaloosa News‘s Cecil Hurt reported that Saban ran Wednesday’s practice from home.
Alabama head football coach Nick Saban and athletic director Greg Byrne have tested positive for COVID-19, per UA. Saban directed @alaftbl practice from home today.
— Cecil Hurt (@CecilHurt) October 14, 2020
Byrne also issued a statement, saying that everyone in the program has “been diligent about mask-wearing and social distancing from the start” while encouraging fans and media to continue taking proper precautions to prevent further spread. Saban even recorded a message urging fans to take caution at the beginning of the pandemic in March.
At 68 years old, Saban is in an age group considered at higher risk with COVID-19. According to the CDC, eight out of 10 coronavirus-related deaths have been among adults aged 65 years and older. However, Saban has no underlying conditions that have been reported and from all appearances, appears to be in extremely good health.
The SEC as a whole is dealing with major COVID-19 concerns. Earlier Wednesday, this weekend’s game between LSU and Florida in Gainesville was officially postponed due to 18 Gators players testing positive. Vanderbilt postponed its game at Missouri and Ole Miss is dealing with a possible outbreak, though head coach Lane Kiffin is hoping the Rebels (who faced Alabama last week) can play Arkansas.
As of right now, Alabama’s game against Georgia in Tuscaloosa at 8 p.m. ET Saturday is still scheduled to be played.
News of Saban’s positive test broke hours after reports circulated that he’s the highest-paid coach in college football for 2020. He’ll earn $9.3 million this year, surpassing the $8.9 million that LSU coach Ed Orgeron will be paid.