By Matthew Keck–

The University of Louisville athletic department announced that Norton Healthcare will be their official healthcare provider on Aug. 22. Norton Sports Health will oversee the medical care for all 23 sports teams at U of L.

Norton Healthcare CEO Russ Cox said, “We think with having over 1,000 providers we’re going to be able to meet every need, any student-athlete at the University of Louisville may have.”

Cox noted that Norton’s experience with Jefferson County Public Schools helped this partnership happen.

The medical support provided by Norton includes conducting all sports physicals and access to Norton Sports Health medical team. Norton is also offering mental health services, including access to counseling and sports performance specialists.

Steven T. Hester, system chief medical officer of Norton Healthcare, said that one of their main focuses will be how they work with the athletes. “More than ever we find that student-athletes continued to be challenged with not just the performance side of things but all the things that go along with just being a student,” said Hester.

Vince Tyra, U of L athletic director, said that they started this partnership with Norton back in January but the partnership was not formalized until August. Tyra said head coaches have been working with the physicians and staff throughout the spring seasons.

Tyra emphasized the importance around the mental health care students will receive, stating it is one of the fastest growing concerns in the NCAA.

In addition to the medical care, Norton is providing funding for athletic trainers, campus training rooms and new imaging equipment. Athletes will have access to Norton eCare, which allows them to to speak with a nurse practitioner via computer or mobile device.

This change comes after U of L ended their 20-year deal with KentuckyOne Health when it expired last year.

There was no disclosed dollar amount. Tyra said that the deal was more about services and marketing assets. The current deal with Norton is three years with options for two additional three-year extensions.

Tyra said, “I just want to make sure their mind and body is taken care of while they’re here.”

Matthew Keck // The Louisville Cardinal