History of the Sports Medicine & Athletic Related Trauma (SMART) Institute

The safety of individuals participating in professional, organized, and recreational sports has always been a concern of the medical community. In 2004, members of the University of South Florida faculty, staff and administration decided to make a difference in the Tampa Bay community. Taking into consideration what other active communities have done for their citizens participating in sporting and recreational events, USF launched an initiative to create a model program for sports safety that best fit the local needs.

Led by USF-Health VP and Dean of the Morsani College of Medicine Dr. Steve Klasko, the idea for developing a comprehensive model that would serve the Tampa Bay community was conceptualized. This was accomplished with the assistance of Dr. Eric Coris, Dr. Micki Cuppett, Dr. William Quillen, as well as college administrators and staff including Joanne Strobbe and Pat Haynie. In addition, Dr. Larry Lemak served in a consulting role sharing his expertise in the area of general community sports safety.

With the positive support of Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio (Miami), Senator Dennis Jones (Seminole) and Representative Frank Farkas (St. Petersburg), a funding appropriation was awarded as seed money to establish a foundation for a program. Subsequent involvement and critical support grew from other members of Florida's legislative leaders, amongst those being House Fiscal Council Chairman Joe Negron (Stuart), Education Appropriations Chair Joe Pickens (Palatka), House Speaker Allen Bense (Panama City), Rep. Anitere Flores (Miami), Council and/or Committee Representatives Kim Berfield (Clearwater), Faye Culp (Tampa), Nancy Detert (Venice), Charlie Justice (St. Petersburg), Trey Traviesa (Tampa), Leslie Waters (St. Petersburg), Education Appropriations Chairman J. D. Alexander (Winter Haven), Les Miller (Tampa), Jim King (Jacksonville), Ways and Means Chair Lisa Carlton (Osprey), Victor Crist (Tampa), Mike Fasano (New Port Richey) and Senate President Tom Lee (Brandon).

Also helping to support the endeavor was one of Tampa Bay's own professional athletes, Buccaneer #24 Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, who personally called Speaker Rubio and encouraged and thanked him for his support.

The overwhelming positive momentum to create a model program in sports safety for the Tampa Bay community led to the birth of the Sports Medicine & Athletic Related Trauma (SMART) Institute that would be housed within the Morsani College of Medicine at the University of South Florida.

Following the original fiscal appropriation, USF was successful in receiving continued financial support from the State Legislature to grow its innovative program. The USF Health SMART Institute would grow in its efforts to investigate the impact that sports related trauma and illness has across the life span and the impact of related movement dysfunction disability and impairments post-participation on health related quality of life. This Institute would focus on the best practice strategies, prevention, and clinical outcomes building upon the USF Health's current strengths within its Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health. In the area of medical education, this program would be able to provide key components to the new curriculum in the areas of musculoskeletal knowledge and provide support for orthopedic faculty for an accredited orthopedic residency. The program would create a Sports Injury Registry for the Tampa Bay Region and the State of Florida. The Institute was funded as a research, teaching, and clinical center that brings new perspectives to the treatment of athletic related trauma and the relationships between exercise, fitness and injury across the lifespan.

In 2006, Barbara Morris was appointed as the Assistant program Director for the SMART Institute, and Dr. Jeff Konin was named the Executive Director. Soon thereafter, ten certified athletic trainers were hired as members of USF Health with the main task of providing daily, on-site care and coverage to some nearly 5,000 secondary school student athletes in ten Hillsborough County High Schools. Under the guidance of Dr. Karen Liller, data pertaining to the epidemiology of injuries for this population is being collected in an effort to identify common injury trends and future programs aimed at injury prevention.

Additionally, members of the SMART team provide on-site coverage for community events, ranging from Florida State Tournaments to non-for profit fund-raising sporting events such as the Chi Chi Rodriguez Foundation. SMART personnel also spend countless hours educating coaches, parents and student athletes in the community on key injury prevention advice on topics such as heat illness, lightning safety, and sports training programs designed to minimize the incident and severity of injuries.

In 2007, The SMART Institute established an executive board of leadership that consisted of Dr. Jeff Konin, Barbara Morris, Dr. Eric Coris, Dr. William Quillen, Dr. David Leffers, Mr. Bob Pastizzo (Department of Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine Administrator), and Dr. Robert Pedowitz, the Chair of the Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine. The current leadership team for the SMART Institute consists of Dr. Barbara Morris, Program Director, and Dr. David Leffers, Department Chair.

The efforts of the SMART Institute continue to expand in areas of community education, research, and partnership. Accomplishments of SMART have been widely shared throughout the state of Florida and on a national level. The SMART Institute offers community educational opportunities including but not limited to ACL injury prevention, heat Illness, sportsmanship as well as many sport specific safety modules. Research accomplishments include projects regarding injury surveillance, heat illness, body mass index and emergency response techniques. The SMART Institute has received media attention from such reputable sources as the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times newspapers.