MSU athletics, Mayo announce $4.14 million sports medicine, orthopedics partnership

Oct. 30—MANKATO — Mayo Clinic Health System will be the official orthopedics and sports medicine provider for Minnesota State University's athletic programs as part of a $4.14 million partnership announced Monday.

The agreement covers five years and seven months and will take effect Dec. 1.

During the contract, Mayo will provide sideline medical coverage at MSU Maverick football games, men's and women's hockey games, plus other sports as part of 450 hours per year of additional services, said Dr. Robert Freed, sports medicine director at Mayo in Mankato.

"We feel this is just an organic growth of our practice, and professionally it feels good to bring this type of care to people who live down the street or live down the corner," he said. "We see some of them on occasion, but being able to be there on the sideline now, we're all pretty honored and excited to be able to closely work with them."

MSU agreed to the contract after completing a request for proposal, or RFP, process earlier this year. Minnesota State Director of Athletics Kevin Buisman announced the partnership and described it as an aligning of "Minnesota State Athletics with one of the most recognizable brand names in the medical industry.

"This immediately further elevates the perception of our program and speaks volumes about our commitment to success," he stated in a release. "Mayo Clinic Health System is a world-class health organization and we are grateful for the investment they will be making in Maverick Athletics. We look forward to the start of an exciting new journey together."

The university previously had a sports medicine partnership with Orthopaedic & Fracture Clinic. An MSU announcement from 2019 stated the partnership with OFC and Sanford Health included $425,000 in donated medical services and $1.31 million in donations.

"We appreciate their many years of service and we're excited about the benefits that this new relationship will bring," Buisman said.

Mayo and MSU's $4.14 million agreement includes $2.59 million in cash payments and sponsorship investments from the health system, according to the news release, plus $1.55 million on in-kind orthopedic coverage and other services. Dr. James Hebl, regional vice president of the health system, stated the partnership also includes investments in a pilot mental health support program at the university.

The previous sports medicine contract included coverage at men's hockey and football games. Along with adding sideline coverage at women's hockey, the new deal will bring Mayo's team to more MSU athletic sporting events — the university has more than 585 student-athletes competing in 20 sports programs.

Buisman sees potential in the deal's proceeds being reinvested into MSU's athletic training staff salaries. There are 11 athletic trainers on staff at MSU, he said, and Mayo's team will be a great complement to them.

The timing of the deal, five years and seven months, was agreed to because it ties the expiration to MSU's fiscal year and away from sporting seasons. The transition in sports medicine providers over the next month or so comes in the middle of some athletic seasons.

Plans are in place to make sure the change over goes well, said Buisman and Freed.

"The core sports medicine team is really the athletic trainers at MSU," Freed said. "With their help, the transition will be quite smooth."

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Follow Brian Arola @BrianArola