UT’s athletic training program will be discontinued in 2025

Lindsey Plotkin, General Sports Reporter

When Brian Farr arrived at the UT in 1999, there was no athletic training major, only an internship and apprenticeship program. He built the major from the ground up, and the program is now widely regarded as one of the best athletic training programs in the country.

Farr, director of the athletic training program and a clinical associate professor, came to UT from Oklahoma State as a staff athletic trainer. When national mandates required universities to offer an accredited program, Farr moved into the position of program director in 2002.

Despite high passing rates of the Board of Certification exam, the program is being discontinued. A national mandate requiring schools to have graduate and undergraduate athletic training programs led to the University’s decision to discontinue the program.

“I created the program from day one and, you know, put 20 years of my life into it,” Farr said. “It was hard news to take and share with our alumni and students, but the world is a tough place and not everything goes smoothly.”

In their four years in the athletic training major, students spend thousands of hours learning the necessary skills they need to become certified athletic trainers and pass the BOC exam. 

The financial implications of moving to a master’s program and adding a third faculty member were factors in the University’s decision to discontinue the program along with changing accreditation and certification.

“There was a concern … with the ongoing accreditation that changes every few years, and you’re kind of always chasing after the accreditation,” Farr said. “There wasn’t one factor, there were multiple discussions and multiple factors that came into the decision to not offer the master’s (program).” 

The University is currently accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education, which will not renew when it expires in 2025. Since the University announced it would not be renewing the accreditation, students who entered the program in the fall of 2022 will not be eligible to sit for the BOC exam.

The athletic training major is a three-year program, meaning students spend their first year at the University in a direct observation program. As sophomores, students are placed into the athletic training major and complete the three years of required courses. Students who came to UT as freshmen in the fall of 2021 did not start taking classes in the major until fall of 2022. These students are the first affected and will not be able to take the BOC exam.

“We lost about 50% of the students who first signed up to be in the major,” Farr said.

These students will still take part in the clinicals and learn all of the skills needed to become athletic trainers, but they will need to complete a graduate program to become certified now that they aren’t eligible for the BOC exam.

The rigor of the classes students take allows them to be fully prepared to be athletic trainers as soon as they graduate. Farr said the class level is the equivalent of completing six semesters of hands-on internships. 

“They’re taking care of people,” Farr said. “They’re there on the field doing assessments and doing assessments in the clinical setting. They’re providing care, so they’re actually learning to become health care professionals.” 

Farr is disappointed with the program ending, but he wants to continue offering the best education to students with the resources that he has. The last group of students in the program to graduate with the certification will graduate in 2024.

“The rigor is still there,” Farr said. “That’s not dropping off. We’re just looking forward to seeing what we can create in the future and what we can offer students that are coming to UT.”