New York Yankees and Buffalo Bills Athletic Trainers Stand with Assemblymember Solages, Senator May and NYSATA to Call for the Licensing of Athletic Trainers

Albany, NY – New York Yankees’ and Buffalo Bills’ Athletic Trainers, Assembly Member Solages, Senator May and The New York State Athletic Trainers’ Association (NYSATA) held a virtual press conference on Monday, April 12, 2021 at 10:30am to call upon theNY State Legislature to finally take up a bill to license the profession.The measure, a long overdue consumer protection mechanism, has been unnecessarily stymied for years. 

Steve Donohue (New York Yankees Athletic Trainer and Director of Medical Services) and Bud Carpenter (Buffalo Bills former Director of Athletic Training Services) werejoined by Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages and a representative from Senator Rachel May’s office, who have co-sponsored the Athletic Training Licensure Act (S.2023A/A.5044), a measure, once enacted, would update thescope of practice to reflect current levels of education, evolving practices and provide title protection of the term “Licensed Athletic Trainer,” ultimately resulting in a consumer protection.

“There is a growing consensus among sports professionals and health officials on the need to focus and educate more on the topics of sports injuries and rehabilitation. Increasingly, we are seeing more investments being made into the health fitness and sports medicine industry to ensure that athletes at every level have the support they need to perform confidently and safely. That is why I have partnered with Senator Rachel May and organizations like NYSATA to introduce and pass legislation relating to the licensing of athletic trainers. This bill is about safeguarding student-athletes while retaining the talent needed to ensure that all of our student and professional athletes are able to execute at the highest levels possible in their respective sports,” stated Assemblymember Michaelle C. Solages.

“I am proud to sponsor the Athletic Training Licensure Act (S.2023A/A.5044), a bill that will require all athletic trainers in the state to be licensed before they can legally practice,” said Senator Rachel May, the bill’s sponsor. "This bill is about ensuring comprehensive safety measures for all physically active New Yorkers. I urge the Higher Education Committee to report the bill and send it to the floor for passage in the Senate this session."

“No one is more dedicated to the care of student-athletes, college athletes, or professional athletes than athletic trainers. While certification is great, licensure elevates the profession to the level of professionalism it deserves,” said Bud Carpenter, former director of athletic training services for the Buffalo Bills. “It is time for New York to say ‘look, these people are the best of the best and we cannot wait any longer to recognize them as the professionals they are with licensure.’”

The sports medicine staff of the Yankees and the Buffalo Bills are longtime supporters of NYSATA and as such, understand the importance of keeping athletes safe, whether in professional sports, collegiate, high school, or club sports.When the public does not have access to an athletic trainer, an individual’s health, performance, and livelihood may very well be at risk. Active individuals depend on the quality of care received while playing sports and being physically active, and they know the athletic trainer as a licensed health care provider is the qualified person to provide them the necessary care.

“As an athletic trainer and now the Director of Medical Services for the Yankees, I'm constantly working with players who need to be at the top of their game every single day. My team and I focus on keeping the athletes healthy and safe, from preventing injuries to treating them when they do occur,” said Steve Donohue, New York Yankees athletic trainer and director of medical services. “Athletic trainers are a vital part of the team and essential for making sure players are peak performance ready. From a team like the Yankees, all the way down to a club high school team, athletes need to be confident they have a professionally trained athletic trainer on their side. That is why I support the legislation that would require licensure for all athletic trainers in New York State.”

New York is only one of four states in the country that doesn’t require licensure for athletic trainers and has not updated the scope of practice for Athletic Trainers in over 29 years, thus, ignoring the advances in research and education, the evolution of best practices related to an athlete’s safety, emergency care, concussion identification and management, and rehabilitation.

Furthermore, the bill intends to close a dangerous loophole left open from the current bill language. The lack of a mandatory licensure in New York State allows for anyone to claim they are an athletic trainer and provide athletic training services, even if they haven’t completed the necessary work to become credentialed. This puts the public at risk.When a profession is not licensed, the public may assume anyone can do that scope of work, but this is extremely dangerous. The athletic trainer is the professional with the education and clinical skills to provide vital health care on the sidelines and in their athletic training rooms.

“Under the current law, athletes in New York are at risk of being treated by an under-qualified person claiming to be an athletic trainer,” said Arturo Flores, New York State Athletic Trainers’ Association president. “It is crucial for athletic trainers to be licensed so New York State can ensure all those that are practicing as athletic trainers have met the educational, certification, exam and continuing education requirements. This ensures the public has credentialed individuals working to keep athletes safe.”

You can use the following link to watch the press conference:

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