Under the Southeastern Conference’s health protocols, Saban was allowed to exit isolation far earlier than first anticipated because he was asymptomatic and tested negative for the virus three times in the days following his initial positive result.
In addition to those official tests, which a conference-sanctioned laboratory processed, Robinson also said that Saban had undergone two more screenings that were reviewed by another lab and returned as negative.
The swift reinstatement of Saban, who has won five national championships at Alabama, was a relief for Crimson Tide fans, a disheartening twist for the Georgia faithful and a catalyst for new debate over college football’s response to the pandemic.
At least 33 Football Bowl Subdivision games, including three in the SEC, have been postponed or canceled since late August for virus-related reasons, and hundreds of players, coaches and staff members have tested positive over the last several months.
But the college football world was still stunned when Saban, 68, announced Wednesday that he had tested positive for the virus and entered isolation at his home in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The result came from what is considered the most reliable type of test for the virus, a polymerase chain reaction test, known as a P.C.R., an Alabama spokesman said.