Alabama Says Nick Saban Does Not Have Coronavirus, Can Coach Saturday

Nick Saban, the Alabama coach who tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday, has been “medically cleared” to direct the second-ranked Crimson Tide throughout Saturday night time’s recreation towards No. 3 Georgia, the college mentioned.

Under the Southeastern Conference’s well being protocols, Saban was allowed to exit isolation far sooner than first anticipated as a result of he was asymptomatic and examined adverse for the virus thrice within the days following his preliminary constructive consequence. That streak of adverse checks, administered by way of a conference-sanctioned laboratory, led Alabama and convention officers to conclude that Saban had obtained a false constructive consequence on Wednesday.

Alabama additionally mentioned Saban had undergone two further checks that had been processed by one other lab and returned as adverse.

“Coach Saban is medically cleared to safely return to activity effective immediately,” Dr. Jimmy Robinson, a crew physician, mentioned in an announcement on Saturday, including that Saban “remained completely symptom-free.”

Hours after Saban was cleared, Florida’s coach, Dan Mullen, mentioned that he had examined constructive for the virus. At least 21 Florida players additionally examined constructive in latest days, and two of the crew’s video games had been postponed. The tenth-ranked Gators are subsequent scheduled to play on Oct. 31, towards Missouri.

Having Saban, who has gained 5 nationwide championships at Alabama, on the house sideline at Bryant-Denny Stadium will impress Crimson Tide followers, dishearten the Georgia devoted and virtually actually gasoline new debate over faculty soccer’s response to the pandemic.

At least 32 Football Bowl Subdivision video games, including two in the SEC, have been postponed or canceled since late August for virus-related causes, and tons of of gamers, coaches and workers members have examined constructive over the past a number of months.

But the school soccer world was nonetheless shocked when Saban, 68, introduced Wednesday that he had examined constructive for the virus and entered isolation at his dwelling in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The consequence got here from what is taken into account probably the most dependable sort of check for the virus, a polymerase chain response check, often called a P.C.R.

Saban, who was typically seen sporting a masks throughout video games, and college officers repeatedly asserted that he was not experiencing any signs, and he maintained an lively schedule, teaching observe remotely and making his ordinary Thursday night time look on a radio present.

On Friday afternoon, Alabama mentioned that Saban had examined adverse on Thursday throughout his first follow-up screening. The announcement raised hopes in Tuscaloosa — and worries in Athens, Ga., the house of the Bulldogs — that Saban would have the ability to work on Saturday.

Less than 24 hours later, Robinson mentioned Saban had recorded extra adverse checks.

Under a new SEC procedure, an individual who checks constructive might, inside 24 hours of that consequence, take a brand new P.C.R. check. If that check reveals a adverse consequence, the particular person can take two extra P.C.R. checks, every separated by 24 hours.

If these checks additionally return adverse outcomes and the particular person stays asymptomatic, the participant, coach or workers member “may be released from isolation and medically cleared to return to athletics activities only,” in response to the league’s pointers. A 3rd-party firm chosen by the SEC is meant to course of the checks.

The league’s presidents and chancellors accepted the coverage on Oct. 8, and the convention included it in an replace to its medical protocols on Monday, two days earlier than Saban examined constructive for the virus.

“I have to trust in the doctors and the medical people who make these protocols safe for all of us,” Saban, who spent months publicly urging followers to observe public well being suggestions, mentioned on ESPN on Saturday whereas he waited for the results of the morning’s check.

He added, “Our players have done a good job of practicing social distancing, and I think this experience has certainly made me have a lot of respect for what we should do, all of us, relative to social distancing, wearing a mask, washing our hands, staying apart, and we’re going to continue to do that.”

Saturday’s recreation is among the many most anticipated matchups of the season, and it may do a lot to form the trajectory of the race to achieve the College Football Playoff. Had the convention’s laboratory not returned three adverse outcomes for Saban over the previous few days, he wouldn’t have been capable of coach through the recreation, both on the stadium or from dwelling.

Saban is 5-1 towards Georgia since his arrival at Alabama in 2007. Kirby Smart, who labored for Saban for 9 seasons at Alabama, is Georgia’s coach.

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