After Alabama Says Nick Saban Does Not Have Coronavirus, He Coaches a Game


Nick Saban, the college football coach who revived Alabama into a national power, returned to work on Saturday — just in time for one of the most important games of the season — after doctors said that he had not been infected with the coronavirus after all.

Saban’s status for the second-ranked Crimson Tide’s game Saturday night against No. 3 Georgia had been in doubt since Wednesday, when he announced that he had tested positive for the virus. But on Saturday morning, after a succession of tests showed Saban not to have the virus, Alabama said its medical team had concluded that the coach had received a false positive result on Wednesday.

“Coach Saban is medically cleared to safely return to activity effective immediately,” Dr. Jimmy Robinson, a team doctor, said in a statement, adding that Saban “remained completely symptom-free.”

Hours after Saban was cleared, Florida’s coach, Dan Mullen, said that he had tested positive for the virus. At least 21 Florida players also tested positive in recent days, and two of the team’s games were postponed. The tenth-ranked Gators are next scheduled to play on Oct. 31, against Missouri.

The league’s presidents and chancellors approved the policy on Oct. 8, and the conference included it in an update to its medical protocols on Monday, two days before Saban tested positive 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 fans to follow public health recommendations, said on ESPN on Saturday while he waited for the result of the morning’s test.

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.”

The uncertainty surrounding Saban only fueled anticipation for Saturday’s game, long penciled in as a matchup poised to shape the race to reach the College Football Playoff. Had the conference’s approved laboratory not returned three negative results for Saban over the last few days, he would not have been able to coach during the game, either at the stadium or from home.


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