James Thornton, MA, ATC, PES, CES

Adjunct Professor

Department of Exercise Sciences and Sport Studies


Mr. Thornton received his Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science from Utah State University in 1987. He performed duties as graduate assistant athletic trainer at University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., and was awarded his master's degree in Sports Medicine at U.O.P. in 1989. Thornton was then hired as assistant athletic trainer in the fall of 1989 and remained in that position until accepting a job as head athletic trainer/director of athletic training services at Clarion University of Pennsylvania in June 1990.  

Mr. Thornton's responsibilities at Clarion University also include being adjunct faculty in the first distance education based athletic training education curriculum in conjunction with California University of Pennsylvania's CAATE accredited program. This program utilizes distance education technology and Internet based learning to accomplish educational criteria. Thornton also performs duties as adjunct instructor for California's Online Exercise Science and Health Promotion Master's Degree program.  

Mr. Thornton is a certified athletic trainer by the Athletic Training Board of Certification, and is licensed the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  He is a certified Performance Enhancement Specialist and Corrective Exercise Specialist by the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

Thornton has been active in the issues that surround the sport of wrestling since his days at Utah State. He has served as the athletic training liaison to the NCAA Wrestling Rules Committee for 16 years. When the unfortunate deaths of three wrestlers occurred in 1997, Thornton served as chair of the Athletic Training Task Force charged with making recommendations for permanent rules changes in weight class management and certification. This weight class certification procedure is now the standard of care for wrestlers at high schools and universities nation wide. As liaison, he is the contact person for all NCAA wrestling institutions concerning questions for weight class certification procedures and rules specific to the medical issues of the sport. 

He has served as the district secretary of NATA's District II (NY, NJ, PA, DE), a member of the Eastern Athletic Trainers' Association Executive Board, as well as being a member of the Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers Society Long-Range Planning and Finance Committee.  He served a 6-year term as a member of the board of directors of the NATA and was vice president for two consecutive years before transitioning off the board. He presently serves as the President of the National Athletic Trainers' Association. 

  • Bachelor's Degree in Exercise Science: Utah State University
  • Master's Degree in Sports Medicine: University of the Pacific