12:29 PM ET
Alabama coach Nick Saban, per SEC protocol, has been cleared to return to the sideline for Saturday night’s showdown against No. 3 Georgia following his third consecutive negative test for COVID-19, the school announced.
Alabama team physician Dr. Jimmy Robinson said in a statement that Saban had negative tests at 7 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday following an initial positive test Wednesday. The school added that two additional tests, from Thursday and Friday, were taken “out of an abundance of caution” and were also found to be negative at a separate lab.
“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,” Robinson said. “… 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.”
Saturday morning’s test was flown to an SEC-approved lab in Mobile, Alabama, for a quick turnaround.
Robinson said in his statement that university officials had been in constant communication with the conference office throughout the process to ensure compliance with all applicable protocols.
Alabama announced Wednesday that Saban, who turns 69 later this month, tested positive for COVID-19. He immediately left the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility and began self-isolating at home.