A former University of Maryland team physician who now is the chief medical officer for athletics at Rutgers University will return to College Park in the new position of director of sports medicine, lead team physician and assistant director in the University Health Center (UHC).

Starting early this fall, Dr. Yvette L. Rooks will lead the UHC’s newly created sports medicine department and serve as the primary care clinician and sports medicine specialist to UMD student-athletes, and to the campus as needed. She will oversee all aspects of sports medicine, including athletic training, sports nutrition and sports psychology.

This position is part of the university’s transition to a model of autonomous and patient-centered care for student-athletes. Athletic medical staff, including the lead team physician, athletic trainers, nutritionists and mental health practitioners, are employed outside of and operate independently of the athletics department, as part of the University Health Center in the Division of Student Affairs.

“The University of Maryland is fortunate to have Dr. Rooks back on our team,” said Dr. David McBride, UHC director, to whom Rooks will report. “She is a respected family physician and national leader in the field of sports medicine. We are pleased to have her and the sports medicine staff join the University Health Center as we seek to provide care for our student-athletes in a holistic context.” 

The appointment of a full-time team physician completes the yearlong implementation of all the recommendations from two external reviews that followed the June 2018 death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who developed heatstroke at a May 29 football practice.

“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,” said Dr. Rod Walters, a sports medicine consultant who led an independent review of circumstances surrounding McNair’s death, and now chair of the university’s Athletic Medicine Review Board. “Maryland is a leader in creating change as colleges and universities continue to examine their delivery of care to student-athletes.”

Before her current leadership role with RWJBarnabas Health, the official health care provider for Rutgers University athletics, Rooks cared for Terp athletes for nearly two decades as a Maryland team physician.

"I am excited to rejoin the University of Maryland team and work with student-athletes to advance their health and wellness,” Rooks said. “I have a long history at Maryland, and I'm thrilled to continue that work in this new role."

During her time at UMD, Rooks also served in several roles at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, including assistant professor, residency program director and executive vice chair for the Department of Family and Community Medicine.

She is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and the College Athletic Trainers Association. She’s also an executive board member of the College Athletic Trainers Society and is certified under the American Board of Family Medicine.

Her awards and honors include Baltimore Magazine’s Top Doctors recognition, the UMB Presidents’ Founders Day Award for public servant of the year, the John M. Dennis Award for Commitment to Rural Health Medical Education and a Faculty Teaching Award from the Family Medicine Residents. In addition, she was a speaker at a White House initiative on men’s health in 2016.

Rooks earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from State University of New York at Albany, and an M.D. from the Health Science Center at Syracuse University. She completed her residency at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where she served as chief resident and was a fellow in the Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship, Division of Sports Medicine.

"We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Rooks home to the Maryland family,” said Athletic Director Damon Evans. “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."

The commitment from Maryland Athletics to the well-being of its student-athletes will continue beyond the now-completed implementation of 26 health and safety policy recommendations from two reports that followed McNair’s death.

Maryland this spring joined only a handful of other universities with an autonomously employed sports medicine operation. The work of the sports medicine staff is guided by annual, ongoing assessment from independent experts through its an athletic medicine review board, and Rooks will coordinate the continuous review and implementation of best practices across athletic training, nutrition and mental health units for student-athlete well-being.

Reforms implemented by Maryland Athletics over the last year include:

  • Stronger policies and practices for safety and well-being across all sports.
  • Further development of the Emergency Action Plan, coupled with regular training.
  • Expanding availability of enhanced trauma bags and automatic external defibrillators.
  • Launch of a real-time reporting and tracking system for student-athlete concerns.
  • Increased attendance of senior administrators and representatives of the university’s Athletic Council at practices and workouts.
  • Development of a Code of Ethical Conduct for all Maryland Athletics employees.
  • Adoption of best practices as developed by the College Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association for all of strength and conditioning staff, along with new reporting lines for football strength and conditioning coaches.

A complete list of reforms and commitments can be found at https://umd.edu/commitment.