University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban, one of the biggest names in college sports, said Wednesday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Saban and the university's athletic director, Greg Byrne, simultaneously announced that they had tested positive for Covid-19. They immediately left campus and went to their homes to self-isolate after having tested positive, the school said. No one other than Byrne and Saban has tested positive so far, and contact tracing has begun.
"At this time, I do not have any symptoms relative to COVID, and I have taken another PCR test to confirm my diagnosis," Saban said in a statement. "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."
Byrne said he learned of his own positive diagnosis Wednesday morning and immediately began the self-isolation process. He did not specify whether he was experiencing any symptoms.
"We've been diligent about mask wearing and social distancing from the start and want to continue to encourage you all to take the necessary precautions to help stop the spread of this virus for yourself and those around you," Byrne said.
Alabama, which plays in the NCAA's Southeastern Conference, started its season Sept. 26. It is scheduled to play the University of Georgia on Saturday. With both teams having 3-0 records, the matchup Saturday will be a closely watched game.
Saban, 68, is beloved by Alabama sports fans for helping lead the school's elite football program to title after title. He has won the school five national championships since 2009, and he won National Coach of the Year honors six times, according to his university biography.
He took over at Alabama after having worked at Louisiana State University, where he won another national championship, and then two seasons with the Miami Dolphins.
Saban told reporters on a Zoom teleconference Wednesday evening that he was "completely asymptomatic" and would be observing daily testing in accordance with SEC protocols. He said he will continue to have meetings with the team through Zoom.
"We've had a lot of challenges this year. Our guys have shown great maturity in how they've handled those challenges," Saban said. "So I'm sure they'll handle this in a very positive way, as well."