False positive confirmed: Saban to coach from sideline against Georgia after clearing SEC protocols
It has officially been determined that University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban experienced a “false positive” test result for COVID-19 earlier this week and thus will be able to coach from the sideline at Bryant-Denny Stadium when the No. 2 Crimson Tide face No. 3 Georgia on Saturday night.
Saban’s initial positive test result came Wednesday through an outside lab not utilized by the Southeastern Conference (SEC) for its mandatory testing protocols; the University of Alabama Athletics Department has been using this outside lab to supplement the mandatory testing, going above and beyond to keep its student-athletes and staff safe.
The legendary coach was asymptomatic at the time of that Wednesday result and has remained without symptoms since then. In order to rule out a false positive, Saban took a test through the SEC’s designated lab on Thursday at 7:00 a.m. CT. The result of that test came back negative through the SEC lab. Additionally, Saban took another test at the same time on Thursday through another lab. That test also came back negative.
Saban repeated this step 24 hours later on Friday morning, resulting in two more negative results — one through the SEC appointed lab and the second through a separate outside facility.
The SEC Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force Protocol requires three consecutive negative tests through the SEC designated lab, each at least 24 hours apart, in order to clear a staff member or student-athlete to return to activity.
Saban cleared this protocol following a Saturday morning negative test result through the SEC’s chosen lab, Tide team physician Dr. Jimmy Robinson confirmed in a statement.
“Upon evaluation today, Coach Saban remains completely asymptomatic. To address the potential for a false positive, the SEC Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force Protocol allows for follow-up testing to clear the individual’s return to activity. That protocol requires three negative PCR tests 24 hours apart,” he outlined.
“Because Coach Saban remained asymptomatic, he received PCR testing at 7 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and today through the SEC appointed lab. Each of those tests were negative and were reported via the SEC’s third-party testing provider to the conference office in Birmingham. Those three negative tests satisfied the SEC protocol for a false positive. Out of an abundance of caution, two additional PCR tests were administered at the same time on Thursday and Friday and were tested by a separate lab. Those tests were also negative,” Dr. Robinson continued.
Saban went above and beyond in clearing the SEC protocol, just as the coach has done through the COVID-19 pandemic. He has been a leader in modeling proper social distancing, mask wearing and hygienic practices, also doing PSAs on the topic.
“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,” Dr. Robinson concluded. “Again, that initial positive result came from an outside lab we’ve used to supplement the SEC mandated testing. We have been in constant communication with the conference office throughout this process to ensure compliance with all applicable protocols. In accordance with the SEC Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force Protocol and with the approval of The University of Alabama System Health and Safety Task Force, Coach Saban is medically cleared to safely return to activity effective immediately.”
Saban appeared on ESPN’s “College GameDay” on Saturday morning to discuss the game versus Georgia, which kicks off at 7:00 p.m. and will be broadcast on CBS.
Watch his interview with UA alumnus Rece Davis:
“Disruptions are kind of the norm in this season. So, if this is a disruption, let’s turn it upside down and make it a positive. Everybody stay focused and take ownership of what they have to do.”
Nick Saban joins the show to discuss his COVID-19 testing: pic.twitter.com/rCN2Q2HkC5
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) October 17, 2020
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn