Football trailblazer and Dartmouth legend Buddy Teevens died on Tuesday, six months after sustaining serious injuries from a bicycle accident, the school announced. He was 66 years old.
“Our family is heartbroken to inform you that our beloved ‘coach’ has peacefully passed away surrounded by family. Unfortunately, the injuries he sustained proved too challenging for even him to overcome,” the Teevens family said in a statement. “Throughout this journey, we consistently relayed the thoughts, memories, and love sent his way. Your kindness and letters of encouragement did not go unnoticed and were greatly appreciated by both Buddy and our family.”
“We are confident and take comfort in the fact that he passed away knowing how much he was loved and admired.”
Teevens is survived by his wife, Kirsten, their children Lindsay and Buddy Jr., and their four grandchildren. He had been an integral part of the Dartmouth community for most of his life, first as a prolific player and then as the head coach, serving two stints that stretched nearly 25 total years.
“This is tragic news for Dartmouth and the entire football world,” Dartmouth president Sian Leah Beilock and athletic director Mike Harrity said in an email sent to the school community. “Buddy not only was synonymous with Dartmouth football, he was a beloved coach and an innovative, inspirational leader who helped shape the lives of generations of students.”
Teevens has been one of the most important pioneers in football history, an advocate of player safety and a force for inclusion in the game. Teevens was the first college football coach to eliminate live tackling from practices, believing it a key step to addressing concerns of head trauma and other injuries in a sport known for its violent collisions.
An Ivy League football pioneer’s absence looms large, but ‘you can’t hold Buddy Teevens back’
Instead, Teevens opted to rely on the Mobile Virtual Player, a remote-controlled tackling dummy — a concept he baked up alongside former classmate John Currier in the spring of 2011. The robot could teach proper tackling technique without adding to the wear and tear that football players traditionally endure. The practice — which his peer coaches initially told him would cost him his job — has become more widespread at both the collegiate and professional levels.
Later on, he became the first college football coach to hire women to his full-time staff. Teevens also worked to identify and develop quality candidates and takes part in the NFL Women’s Careers in Football Forum at the scouting combine each year in Indianapolis.
“Not many people have contributed more to the game than Buddy,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, also a friend of Teevens, told The Athletic in June. “It’s unique in that he’s had so many touch points into the future of the game as well as the past.”
NFL and college coaches honor Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens at the NFL Draft. pic.twitter.com/f8TFgASo7g
— NFL (@NFL) April 27, 2023
Teevens was critically injured in a bicycle accident the evening of March 16 on state road A1A in St. Augustine, Fla. Teevens suffered spinal cord injuries and his right leg was amputated after he was struck by a Ford F150. Kirsten said this summer that she and Buddy had moved to Boston to continue his rehabilitation closer to family and friends.
Sammy McCorkle has served as the Dartmouth interim coach this season in Teevens’ absence. He and Harrity told the team about Teevens’ passing after practice Tuesday.
(Photo: Andy Lewis / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)