Alabama coach Nick Saban tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday as he is self-isolating at home while he continues to oversee his team’s practices via Zoom.
Alabama Games director Greg Byrne also tested positive on Wednesday.
“I found out earlier this afternoon that the test results were positive for me for COVID-19,” Saban said in a statement. “I quit work immediately and is isolated at home. At this time, I don’t have any symptoms associated with COVID, and I have had another PCR test to confirm my diagnosis.”
Saban, who was working from his home, was elated when he addressed reporters on a phone call from Zoom on Wednesday evening, laughing and jokingly said, “There must be something bad wrong as far as I look forward to Wednesday’s press conferences so I’m not there you today.”
Saban, 68, said he was fine before the positive test result, which he said surprised him.
“I feel so good, so I’m not very interested in my health, but you never know,” Saban said. “Look, I basically feel like when we’re in our personal bubble here everyone is in a safer place. I think once you travel you are exposed to a lot of things and a lot of people.”
Saban said he informed his players of his positive test on a Zoom call at 2 p.m. on Wednesday. He said his message to the players was the assumption that anyone they came into contact with might be infected, and to be careful.
Alabama plans to test everyone on the soccer program on Thursday. The program began daily testing of players in September.
Saban said he was able to monitor the practice on Wednesday via Zoom, and could speak on the phone to a staff member if there was anything he saw that needed to be corrected.
“I had the manager’s phone,” he explained. “If I wanted to repeat a play, I said, ‘Repeat that play, so and so.’ I haven’t left the country or anything else. I’m just on the street. And we have this technology, so it’s really unique.”
Alabama head coach Nick Saban explains how he received the news of his positive test for COVID-19 and how he managed to continue training his team from home.
Attack Coordinator Steve Sarkissian, who was the Technical Director for Washington from 2009 to 2013 and USC in 2014 and 15, is in charge of operations on the ground with Saban is out, but the question of Sarkissian’s independence to make decisions is something Saban says they haven’t decided yet.
Saban wasn’t sure what level of engagement he would be able to get during Saturday’s match at home against 3rd-seeded Georgia, saying that the in-game connection issue was something they had to look into.
Regardless, Sarkissian will still be the attacking caller whether or not he plays as a coach, Saban says.
Alabama team doctors Jimmy Robinson and Jeff Allen said Saban and Bayern were the only people to test positive “at this point in time” and said the school would follow a medical counseling staff protocol and return to the SEC activity to test for asymptomatic positives.
“Today, I received notification that the test for COVID-19 that I took this morning came back positive,” Byrne said in a statement. “Upon hearing the news, I immediately went into self-isolation and will stay at home and follow all instructions. We have made sure to wear masks and social distancing from the start and want to continue to encourage you all to take precautions to help stop the spread of this virus to you and those around you.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines say that those who have positive tests should be isolated for 10 days, and contact tracing requires quarantine for 14 days.
Saban is one of a handful of FBS coaches who have tested positive for the Coronavirus. Kevin Somlin from Arizona, Mike Norville from Florida, not Miles from Kansas, Jason Kandel from Toledo and Blake Anderson from Arkansas also reported positive results.
Alex Scarborough and Chris Low of ESPN contributed to this report.