One of the most successful and greatest coaches in the history of college football, Alabama's Nick Saban has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the school announced on Wednesday.
The 68-year-old Saban and Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne each tested positive. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkissian will take over in the interim as the No. 2 Crimson Tide prepares to face Southeastern Conference-rival No. 3 Georgia on Saturday.
"I found out earlier this afternoon that I had tested positive for COVID-19," Saban said in a statement issued by the school. "I immediately left work and isolated at home. At this time, I do not have any symptoms relative to COVID, and I have taken another PCR test to confirm my diagnosis. 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."
Saban has coached six national champions, five of them coming with Alabama, having resurrected what was once one of college football's most decorated programs under Bear Bryant and having achieved unprecedented success under his reign. Saban's college career record currently stands at 246-65-1 as he becomes the largest name yet in the college football world to contract the novel coronavirus.
Saban, whose resume includes two seasons as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 2005-06 and four seasons as defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns under Bill Belichick from 1991-94, has advocated for respecting the coronavirus and has filmed PSAs in the hopes of persuading people to take COVID-19 seriously.
Sarkisian has been the Alabama offensive coordinator since last season after he spent the previous two years in the same position for the Atlanta Falcons.
"Early this afternoon, we received notification that coach Saban and Greg Byrne tested positive for COVID-19. Both immediately left the facility and went to their homes to self-isolate after receiving that information," Dr. Jimmy Robinson and Alabama athletic trainer Jeff Allen said in the statement. "At this point in time, the positive tests are limited to those two individuals. All individuals who are considered high risk contacts have been notified and will follow quarantine guidelines. We will follow the SEC's Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force Protocol for testing asymptomatic positives."