Rockford University announces new student athletics partnership with Mercyhealth

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) ----- Fall sports are here and Rockford University is rolling out a new partnership to help its student-athletes.

"Sports are such a big venue in today's environment that it's just a natural for us."

Kicking off the 2019 school year, MercyHealth will partner with Rockford University to become the school's exclusive sports medicine provider.

"We have 280 student-athletes, so we have a significant number of students who are here at any one time who are playing sports, and they're going to get injured, unfortunately that happens as part of being an athlete. And when that happens, you want them to have immediate access to good quality care," said Rockford University President Eric Fulcomer.

MercyHealth president and CEO Javon Bea says the five-year deal is just one step in maintaining the health system's strong relationship with the Rockford community.

"Mercy's been offering athletic training and team physicians for close to 30 years and we do this at dozens of high schools, colleges and semi-pro teams. We really have a great process down, and it isn't like we're going to be having to learn our way with this exclusive sports medicine provider relationship with Rockford University, as we've been doing this, as I say, for three decades,” said Bea.

"Students, of course, won't see them as either they work at Rockford University or they work at Mercy. They'll just see that they have a team of folks available to them to provide for their athletic training needs. It's going to be a great service for our students," said Fulcomer.

The plan will also provide CPR certification training for coaches and team doctors.