Despite testing positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, Alabama head coach Nick Saban has been cleared to coach against Georgia, the school announced Saturday.
“Due to the fact that Coach Saban has remained completely symptom-free and had five negative PCR tests, split between two separate labs, the initial test from Wednesday is considered a false positive under the SEC protocols,” team physician Dr. Jimmy Robinson said in a statement.
Robinson added: “Coach Saban is medically cleared to safely return to activity effective immediately.”
Saban’s Saturday test was taken to an SEC-approved lab in Mobile, Ala., to receive faster results. Alabama said his initial test came from an outside lab that the school uses to supplement the SEC’s mandated testing.
“I feel great, I don’t have any problems,” Saban said Friday. “I’ve been able to do everything that I would do if I were working from (the office), whether it’s being in meetings, watching film with the coaches, watching practice film, have communication on the field that I can still correct players.”
Saban tested positive on Wednesday afternoon and immediately entered into self-isolation at his home. He said Thursday night on his radio show that he still has been able to perform all of his normal work duties from his house.
According to the SEC’s protocols, if an individual in question has three successive negative PCR tests 24 hours apart and remains asymptomatic then they may be released from isolation and are medically cleared to return to athletics activities.
Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, a former head coach at USC and Washington, would have handled the head coaching duties Saturday had Saban not been cleared to coach.
No. 2 Alabama enters Saturday’s primetime matchup with No. 3 Georgia with a 3–0 record, having defeated Missouri, Texas A&M and Ole Miss.
Kickoff for Saturday’s Alabama-Georgia game is set for 8 p.m. ET.