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At least five Alabama football players test positive for Covid-19

How Alabama reacts here could be a big moment for college football going forward.

Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs onto the field before the game against the LSU Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 09, 2019 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

According to BamaInsider, and subsequently confirmed by other media reports, five Alabama Crimson Tide football players have tested positive for Covid-19.

Sources told BamaInsider on Thursday that as many as five Alabama players have tested positive for COVID-19 as the team reported back to campus this week. BamaInsider reached out to a university official who was unable to confirm at this time, stating player-privacy regulations.

Later Thursday, Alabama Interim Vice President for Strategic Communications Ryan Bradley provided a statement to BamaInsider reading: “The health and safety of our student-athletes is a top priority. Resources and protocols are in place to ensure they receive the best medical care when returning to campus. Due to privacy laws we cannot share information specific to the health of our student-athletes.”

According to a report from CBS 42 later Thursday, none of the players who tested positive showed prior symptoms. CBS 42 also reported that the list of players included a lineman, a couple of skill players and one quarterback.

The Athletic later confirmed the number as five players. Simone Eli of CBS 42 Birmingham later filled in more details.

If college football athletes were going to end up on a field together again, this was inevitable. But now that one of the flagship programs of the sport has been hit, how they react is likely to determine the success of the football season going forward. Will the players be successfully quarantined? Will their health, or the health of anyone near them on the field, be affected? And how were 50 players allowed to get together on a field, “voluntary” workout or not?

The NCAA Football Oversight Committee will make final recommendations to the Division I Council in mid-June, but for now it’s expected the committee will recommend at least six weeks of football training camp. If that’s to happen, this won’t be the last outbreak of the coronavirus on a football campus.

This is the big moment for college football, and the eyes of all NCAA athletics administrators and university presidents will be on Tuscaloosa over the next several weeks.