Former Auburn Athletic Trainer Kenny Howard dies at age 90

Howard and Hughston, Former Auburn Athletic Trainer

Howard and Hughston

Former Auburn Athletic Trainer Kenny Howard dies at age 90

Kenny Howard, former Auburn University Athletic Trainer and US Olympic Trainer, died Monday, February 27, in his sleep. He was 90.

After graduating from Auburn University in 1948, Howard became Auburn’s head athletic trainer and was also the football trainer throughout Coach Ralph “Shug” Jordan’s career (1951-1975).

Back in 1951, Howard was hunting for a team physician and finding it nearly impossible, when Jack Hughston MD, came to Coach Jordan’s office, and asked if he could become the Tigers’ team physician.

“Coach Jordan said he’d never heard of such a thing and told Kenny it was up to him,” Dr. Hughston recalled in a 1997 interview with Valerie Hunt from the NATA News. During the same interview, Howard said that he had trouble finding a physician because they didn’t have team physicians or a sports specialty back then. Howard and Hughston formed a lifelong friendship while developing the first-ever sports medicine program at Auburn.

Howard served as the trainer for the US Olympic track team at Helsinki in 1952 and for the swim team at the Montreal Olympics in 1976. He was also the trainer for two World University Games, two Senior Bowls, and for 10 years he served as a trainer for the Alabama Blue-Gray All-star game. Additionally, from 1976 to 1980, Howard was the first assistant athletic director for Olympic sports at Auburn University.

After retiring from Auburn in 1980, Howard came to work with Dr. Hughston at the Hughston Sports Medicine Foundation (HSMF) in Columbus, GA. During his tenure at the HSMF, he worked with Dr. Hughston and other Hughston physicians to form the Kenny Howard Athletic Training Fellowship with Auburn University. The program is still vital today. Howard retired from HSMF in 1995.

In 1998, Howard received the Outstanding Trainer Award by the All-American Football Foundation. In 2000 he was inducted into the City of Auburn’s Walk of Fame. The Auburn Chapter of the National Football Foundation and the College Hall of Fame honored him with the “Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football” award in 2001. Additionally, he was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2002, the first athletic trainer to receive this honor. He was a member of the National Athletic Trainers Hall of Fame, the Alabama Trainers Association Hall of Fame, the DeKalb County Sports Hall of Fame, the Hughston Society, the Auburn A-Club and Auburn Football Lettermen Club, and the City of Auburn Tiger Trail. He was an Honorary Member of the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine. He was also a member of the Auburn City Council from 1984 through 1987.


Visitation will be held at Jeffcoat-Trant Funeral Home in Opelika, AL, on Sunday, March 5, from 4 to 6 pm. Funeral service will be at Auburn United Methodist Church Monday, March 6, at 2 pm, with Dr. George Mathison officiating. Honorary bearers will be Bobby Buisson, Glen Hess, David Housel, Ken Johns, Ron Myers, Dr. Lyle Norwood, Jerry Talkington, Hub Waldrop, and the late Dr. Jack Hughston.

In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to the Kenny Howard Fellowship through the Auburn University Foundation, 317 South College Street, Auburn, AL 36830.