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Athletic training program faces potential injury

Athletic training program faces potential injury

Rocky Robinson

Kayla Wegman, junior athletic trainer, prepares athletes for practice on Tuesday. Wegman is one of 17 athletic training majors whose program could be discontinued.

Kayla Wegman, junior athletic training major, spends up to six hours a day wrapping ankles, performing therapy and prepping Emporia State athletes for practice and competition. But Wegman and the other student athletic trainers now question the future of their program. The Academic Affairs Committee submitted a recommendation that could potentially discontinue the program.

The recommendation came separate from the bulk program discontinuations that went through the Faculty Senate earlier this year. The Program Discontinuation Document was submitted April 3 to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee from the Academic Affairs Committee.

David Cordle, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, said in a Faculty Senate meeting on Tuesday that it came in separately from the other program discontinuations because of “other factors that weren’t apparent at that time.”

“Athletic training and a number of other programs weren’t hitting those numbers (minimum graduation) at that time, but they weren’t missing them by so much (that) I felt discontinuation was not appropriate,” Cordle said. “Other factors, having to do with accreditation and staffing… prompted the dean’s (Ken Weaver, dean of the Teachers College) recommendation on this.”

Cordle said this recommendation is just the beginning of the conversation about discontinuance, but this has not stopped Leslie Kenney, athletic trainer, from making plans with the athletic department, lead by Kent Weiser, athletic director, if the recommendation goes through.

“We are calculating the cost of increasing the staffing to maintain the quality of care provided, but the student loss should be spread out over a couple of years,” Kenney said. “We would have a little buffer, but we don’t have an immediate answer.”

The athletic training program has two full-time staff members and three graduate assistants, who oversee the 17 undergraduates in the program, not including freshman currently trying to get into the program. Each individual undergraduate puts in an average of 1,200 hours over their academic careers in the training room, assisting ESU’s 385 athletes. The staff averages between 30-50 athletes per day, depending on the season.

“As an athlete, I feel like it is going to cause more problems,” said Carly Spicer, junior elementary education major and volleyball player. “We rely on them completely. I know on my team, we at least have 5 or 6 girls coming in every day.”

Bryan Sailer, head soccer coach, said he doesn’t like change and doesn’t think the administration should be “rocking the boat.” Sailer has players who visit the trainers daily, and even some athletic training majors, on his roster.

“I don’t have much of a say in the whole situation, but as long as my athletes receive the care and attention they need, I am okay with whatever is decided,” Sailer said.

Shortly after the recommendation was made public, support for the athletic program began sprouting up on campus and social media. A bandaged Corky has become the mascot, accompanied by the hashtag #SaveESUAthleticTraining. The recommendation did not sit well with some student athletes.

“If they discontinue it, I am going somewhere else,” Wegman said. “I don’t know where, but I would be gone.”

A program discontinuance hearing sponsored by the AAC is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. tomorrow in the Preston Family Room of the Memorial Union. The hearing will decide what goes into the Faculty Senate’s resolution. The resolution is set to be finished by April 22. The senate will have 30 days to vote and submit their written recommendations to Cordle and President Michael Shonrock.

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