The University of Maryland announced Dr. Yvette Rooks as its new director of sports medicine, lead team physician and assistant director of the University Health Center, completing a three-month national search Wednesday.
Rooks’ addition, which finalizes a transition from reporting directly to the athletic department to the purview of the University Health Center, completes the final recommendation from sports medicine consultant Rod Walters’ report investigating the death of former Maryland offensive lineman Jordan McNair.
The move comes about 14 months after McNair’s death following heatstroke suffered at a team workout May 29, 2018. McNair’s death spurred a series of firings — including coach DJ Durkin and trainers Wes Robinson and Steve Nordwall — and changes within the football program and athletic department, creating clarity in reporting lines and improving the emergency action plan.
“I am excited to rejoin the University of Maryland team and work with student-athletes to advance their health and wellness,” Rooks said in a release. “I have a long history at Maryland and I’m thrilled to continue that work in this new role.”
Rooks returns to Maryland after serving as a team physician in College Park for 18 years. She was head team physician between 2008 and 2016 before leaving to join RWJBarnabas Health, the health care provider for Rutgers University athletics, as its chief medical officer for athletics. In Piscataway, New Jersey, she oversaw care of over 600 athletes.
Rooks will have a similar role at Maryland. The lead team physician coordinates with physicians for all of the Terps’ athletic programs. Her start date is set for the early fall, the release read, but a specific date has yet to be determined.
“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Rooks home to the Maryland family,” athletic director Damon Evans said in a release. “Throughout her distinguished career, she has exhibited an unwavering commitment to the health and well-being of student-athletes. We look forward to working with her on the establishment of a new model of student-athlete care here in College Park.”
Under the new model — which was included as part of 20 recommendations from Dr. Rod Walters — the athletic trainers, nutritionists and mental health practitioners all report to Rooks, as part of the University Health Center. Rooks will report to David McBride, who is the director of the University Health Center, then the student affairs vice president, and ultimately to the university president.
Following the death of freshman Olivia Paregol last year from adenovirus, the University Health Center came under fire for its communication regarding the spread of the illness. Officials waited 18 days to inform the campus of an outbreak — one day after Paregol died from complications of the virus on Nov. 18. And in May, her family took steps to sue the school for its response to the virus and an outbreak of mold on the campus.
Rooks earned her bachelor’s degree at the State University of New York at Albany and her doctorate from the Health Science Center at Syracuse. From there, she completed her residency at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
“As Maryland continues to develop an athlete-centered model of care that ensures autonomy and independent care by the clinician, the hiring of Dr. Rooks as lead team physician is a major step forward,” Walters said in a release. “Maryland is a leader in creating change as colleges and universities continue to examine their delivery of care to student-athletes.”