Sports | October 21, 2020 12:02 pm

How Alabama’s Nick Saban Made Kickoff Days After Positive COVID-19 Test

Saban was on the sideline coaching against Georgia three days after testing positive

How Alabama's Nick Saban Made Kickoff Days After Positive COVID-19 Test
Nick Saban leads his team onto the field to face the Georgia Bulldogs at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Collegiate Images via Getty Imag

A week ago today, Alabama football coach Nick Saban tested positive for COVID-19 and immediately left the team’s facility and went into isolation at home.

At the time, it seemed like asymptomatic Saban only had a Hail Mary’s shot of being completed of being on the sidelines the following Saturday night when Alabama was set to take on the Georgia Bulldogs in an important Southeastern Conference matchup.

But, thanks to Alabama’s immense resources and an SEC policy that’d been developed just days before Saban’s positive test, the 68-year-old was able to make the game to coach the Crimson Tide.

Less than a week before Saban’s positive test, the SEC revised its COVID-19 policy to allow an asymptomatic person like Saban to take P.C.R. tests on three consecutive days. If all three results were negative, the player or could return to athletics, according to The New York Times.

After testing positive on Wednesday and experiencing no symptoms, Saban had negative tests on Thursday and Friday and was awaiting the results to come back on Saturday from a laboratory in Mobile, Alabama, just hours before second-ranked Alabama was set to play third-ranked Georgia.

When those results came back negative, courtesy of a private jet taking Saban’s cellular data from Tuscaloosa to Mobile around daybreak on gameday, Saban was cleared to coach.

Had the SEC not changed its policy and Alabama not had the resources to expedite Saban’s tests, he would not have been able to coach the Crimson Tide to their 41-24 victory.

“It’s a reminder of the stark disparity between the haves and have-nots,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, told The Times.