History of Athletic Training
The NATA-approved athletic training curriculum has been in place at Slippery Rock University since 1974. At that time one faculty member, one staff member, and two graduate assistants were involved with the program. There were approximately ten students in this program.
By 1984 there were two faculty with release time for athletics, one full-time faculty, and four graduate assistants. The program was accessible to any students who met the minimal qualifications for admission. Student admission to the program stayed constant at 20-22 students.
By 1991 over 100 students seeking one of the 15 available seats. There were two full-time faculty and a new position, head athletic trainer, was created. There were three graduate assistants. In 1992-1993 two additional graduate assistants were employed to assist with mentoring of students. During the 1992-1993 academic year, despite financial constraints, the program was successful in creating a new permanent position (assistant athletic trainer), which became effective in the fall of 1993. Three graduate assistant positions were eliminated to create this position.
During that time a great deal of effort, which included two years of planning, went into devising an objective admission procedure to accommodate the significant number of entering freshmen who sought athletic training as a career. The curriculum was revised, and the "new program" was initiated in 1993. The "old" program was phased out completely. The transition to the new program, and the incorporation of the assistant athletic trainer was assessed as being successful.
In 1994, the Athletic Training Program was one of the first eleven programs in the country to be accredited by the Commission for Accreditation of Allied Health Programs (CAAHEP) with the new standards. The program was re-accreditation by CAAHEP in 1999 through 2004, making it one of the very first programs in the country to be re-accredited.
During the 2000-2001 academic year, the university restructured several colleges to include the College of Health and Human Services, which housed the Athletic Training Program. The program was renamed the "Athletic Training Education Program" and moved to the newly formed Department of Exercise and Rehabilitative Sciences in the CES. Other programs included in the new department were Exercise Science and Adapted Physical Activity. In the spring of 2002, a new Accelerated Athletic Training Program was approved, which creates the opportunity for athletic training students to graduate in 3.5 years or 7 semesters. Additionally, in January 2003, the Board of Governors of the PA State System of Higher Education granted the ATP the degree Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training.
In the fall of 2001, the faculty and staff created a new curricular proposal to incorporate an Accelerated Program. The proposal was taken forward to the administration and subsequently approved in the spring of 2002. Students who entered the university in the fall of 2002 matriculated through the program under the new Accelerated Program, which creates the opportunity to graduate in 3.5 years or 7 semesters. Additionally, in 2003, the Board of Governors for the State System of Higher Education approved a proposal to change the ATP from a specialization to a major. Students who graduated from SRU in May 2003 were the first to be granted a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Athletic Training.
The ATP was re-accredited by CAAHEP for the third time in March 2006. In July 2006, the NATA officially transferred accreditation for all ATPs to the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). In the decade since the program saw tremendous growth and success. The program was awarded a ten-year CAATE accreditation in 2011. Student enrollment in the professional strand of the program grew from 55 in 2006 to 69 in 2016. The faculty grew from one full-time teaching faculty, one full-time faculty member with dual appointments, and three full-time clinical athletic trainers in 2006 to four full-time doctorally-prepared teaching faculty members and four clinical athletic trainers with 1.5 graduate assistants in 2016.
In the summer of 2015, the Strategic Alliance (NATA, BOC, CAATE) released the recommendation that athletic training education be offered at only the graduate level, requiring all existing undergraduate athletic training programs to transition to a graduate program or close. Administrators at the Pennsylvania State System institutions with accredited programs decided to collectively propose transition of each respective program. The SRU proposal was submitted in the fall of 2015 and approved by the PA State System of Higher Education Board of Governors in January 2016.
The final undergraduate cohort of athletic training students was admitted to SRU in the fall of 2016 and graduated in December 2019 and May 2020. The SRU Athletic Training Graduate program started accepting applications for the inaugural cohort on July 1, 2019 and initiated the program in July 2020 with a cohort size of 12 students.