Michael “Spanky” Stephens
Distinguished Alumnus Inductee
Texas State Athletic Trainers’ Association (TSATA)
Michael “Spanky” Stephens is a 1970 graduate of the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education at the University of Texas at Austin. He served as a student athletic trainer during his undergraduate years before being hired upon graduation as UT Austin’s first assistant athletic trainer under the legendary Frank Medina. Stephens served as an assistant athletic trainer for eight years before being named Head Athletic Trainer in 1978. In all, Stephens served 30 years at UT – eight as an assistant and 22 as the head athletic trainer. Stephens also supervised, taught and mentored hundreds of student athletic trainers in his career, most of whom studied in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education.
As executive director of TSATA, Stephens has been instrumental in promoting the athletic training profession and for advocating for the safety of student-athletes and patients. Under his leadership, the TSATA created the Texas Education Agency’s recognized sports medicine track, courses for high school students and the TSATA sports medicine course instructor’s recognition program. Moreover, the TSATA, under Stephens’ leadership, helped pass Texas’ concussion law for secondary school student-athletes, a law that requires automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to be housed in secondary school buildings, and a law that mandates coaches and activity directors undergo annual safety and emergency preparedness training before supervising students. His work on the concussion law was officially recognized by the Texas House of Representatives.