Nick Saban, Alabama’s Football Coach, Tests Positive for Coronavirus

The renowned Alabama coach is the most prominent figure in college sports known to have tested positive during the coronavirus pandemic.

By Alan Blinder

Nick Saban, the football coach at the University of Alabama and one of the most powerful figures in college sports, said Wednesday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, deepening the pandemic’s turmoil throughout the Southeastern Conference.

Saban, whose second-ranked team is scheduled to play No. 3 Georgia on Saturday, said in a statement that he was asymptomatic and isolating at his home in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Alabama’s athletic director, Greg Byrne, also tested positive, the university said.

“Both immediately left the facility and went to their homes to self-isolate after receiving that information,” Dr. Jimmy Robinson, Alabama’s team doctor, and Jeff Allen, the football team’s head athletic trainer, said in a statement. “At this point in time, the positive tests are limited to those two individuals. All individuals who are considered high risk contacts have been notified and will follow quarantine guidelines.”

The announcement from Alabama was a fresh shock to a league grappling with its most perilous week of virus-related crises. On Wednesday, the conference postponed Saturday’s game between Florida and Louisiana State after at least 21 Florida players and two assistant coaches tested positive for the virus.

Earlier in the week, a contest between Missouri and Vanderbilt was postponed because of an outbreak at Vanderbilt.

But word that Saban, who has been an active public proponent of wearing masks and social distancing, may have far greater reverberations, in part because of the renown he has cultivated during his 14 seasons at Alabama.

During his tenure at the university — whose fans spent the years before he arrived in 2007 longing for the dominant teams they had known under Bear Bryant — Saban has won five national championships.

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