Alabama coach Nick Saban tests positive again, this time with symptoms

University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban has tested positive for COVID-19 for the second time and is now experiencing “mild symptoms,” the university said in a statement Wednesday, meaning he will miss Saturday's game against arch-rival Auburn. 

"This morning we received notification that Coach Saban tested positive for COVID-19. He has very mild symptoms, so this test will not be categorized as a potential false positive. He will follow all appropriate guidelines and isolate at home," the program said in a statement shared with CBS Sports, ESPN and other outlets

Team physician Jimmy Robinson and head athletic trainer Jeff Allen added in the statement that Saban “will follow all appropriate guidelines and isolate at home.” 


Saban, 69, first tested positive for the virus in mid-October, as did the university’s athletic director, Greg Byrne. Saban was asymptomatic at the time, and was eventually cleared to coach that weekend’s game against Georgia after testing negative three times, indicating the initial test could have been a false positive. 

According to ESPN, Saban told reporters Wednesday that head-coaching duties will temporarily fall to Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Sarkisian had previously taken over head coaching duties following Saban’s first positive test. 

Saban added that he was the only member of the Alabama program to test positive Wednesday. 

Southeastern Conference guidelines state that athletic personnel must isolate for 10 days and "at least 24 hours must have passed since last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and symptom improvement (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, etc.) has occurred, in accordance with current CDC guidance for isolation."

The news means Saban, who has won multiple national titles with Alabama football team, will not be able to coach the No. 1 Crimson Tide in Saturday's Iron Bowl. 

Saban is set to come out of isolation one day before the regular season's final game at Arkansas.