A few weeks back at SEC Media Day, commissioner Greg Sankey stressed that the league’s COVID-19 vaccination rates needed to improve before the start of the season. At that point, Alabama was in good standing with over 90% of its team receiving the vaccine. Now it’s is in great standing.
In an interview with ESPN’s Mark Schlaback on Wednesday, the Crimson Tide’s head coach revealed that just one player on his roster hasn’t been vaccinated.
“All but one of our guys has been vaccinated, but it could still be an issue,” Saban said. “They say if 90% (of your team)is vaccinated, you’re OK, but who knows? At least if you’re vaccinated you don’t have to quarantine guys.”
Having the entire team nearly fully vaccinated means the odds of Alabama having troubles down the line are greatly minimized. One of the other big updates Sankey shared during media days was that teams who do not meet the minimum roster requirements in 2021 will possibly need to forfeit games rather than reschedule them.
“We still have roster minimums that exist, just like last year,” Sankey said in July. “What I’ve identified for consideration among our membership is we remove those roster minimums and you’re expected to play as scheduled. That means you team needs to be healthy to compete, and if not, that game won’t be rescheduled. And thus, to dispose of the game, the ‘forfeit’ word comes up at this point. That’s not a policy, and what you see are the bookends now for decision making.”
The SEC says that once a team reaches an 85 percent COVID-19 immunization rate, which includes the players and coaches, surveillance testing can be suspended and fully vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine after being exposed to someone with COVID-19 if they remain asymptomatic.
Saban was also asked in the interview if he believes college football will return to full-capacity crowds this season.
“Somebody else has got to make that decision,” Saban said. “Do you just let vaccinated people in? Do you say everybody can come to the game at their own risk? I don’t know what they’ll decide based on all of that. I’d love to be able to get back to normal, but somebody has to make a decision about what’s really safe.”
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Patrick Dowd is a Reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter, via Pat_Dowd77