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Family Pays Tribute to Doctor’s Legacy

The Dr. Bill deShazo Sports Medicine Center at The University of Alabama is about service, excellence, and commitment. A generous donation by deShazo’s widow, Martha Coleman deShazo, and her family has helped establish the facility at UA’s School of Medicine, Tuscaloosa Campus/College of Community Health Sciences. It shows how people can use a donation to help the mission of the University and honor a loved one with a naming gift.

The center, which held its grand opening in April 2008, is named in honor of Dr. Bill deShazo, a longtime faculty member of the School of Medicine. He chaired its department of family medicine and directed the Tuscaloosa Family Medicine Residency in the College of Community Health Sciences. DeShazo also was the team physician for the University of Alabama Athletic Department from 1972 to 1985, serving as a personal physician to Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, and as a team physician for the football, basketball, and baseball teams. DeShazo retired from the University in 1988 and passed away in 2006.

The deShazo family wanted to honor him by contributing to the medical school and the athletic department, said Bill deShazo, deShazo’s son and a strategic consultant with Humana Inc. The elder deShazo was first a family practitioner–a “country doctor” in Jackson, Alabama, according to his son–who then segued into the field of sports medicine.

“It felt like a good mix,” the younger deShazo said. “We wanted to take the opportunity, on his passing, to leave some legacy to the athletic department and the health sciences divisions.”

The center, which is open to the public as well as to University athletes, is a key component of a new Sports Medicine Fellowship Program that the School of Medicine is creating in partnership with the University of Alabama Athletic Department.

Two physicians who provide care for University of Alabama athletes will practice at the center: Dr. James Robinson and Dr. Craig Buettner, both of West Alabama Family Practice and Sports Medicine in Tuscaloosa.

“At the Sports Medicine Center, we diagnose and treat injuries, such as muscular and skeletal injuries, and focus on prevention,” Robinson explained. He said the center also provides youth sports physicals and will offer some services related to diet and nutrition.

Since Dr. deShazo began his career at the University working as a primary care physician at UA’s student health center, service to student-athletes on the varsity and intramural level is key to the deShazo family’s vision for the program.

“The quality of care is not just for scholarship student-athletes, but also for the intramural athletes and other kids as well,” Bill deShazo said. “There are students participating in a broad spectrum of sports at the University, and we were interested in providing good, high-quality care for them as well.”

DeShazo introduced the sports medicine rotation into the School of Medicine curriculum and “always talked about having a sports medicine program at The University of Alabama,” said Dr. E. Eugene Marsh, dean of the College of Community Health Sciences and associate dean of The University of Alabama School of Medicine, Tuscaloosa Campus.

Marsh said the center and fellowship program will benefit UA and its athletes, and provide additional training for future physicians “that will be felt in community sports programs throughout the state as fellows graduate from the program and establish their practices throughout Alabama and the Southeast region.”

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