Buddy Teevens, the successful and innovative Ivy League football coach who brought robotic tackling dummies to Dartmouth practices and strived to make the game safer, died Tuesday of injuries he sustained in a bicycle accident in March. He was 66.
School president Sian Leah Beilock and athletic director Mike Harrity announced Teevens’ death in a letter to the Dartmouth community.
“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.”
Teevens, the winningest football coach in Dartmouth history, had his right leg amputated following the bicycle accident in Florida. Teevens and his wife, Kirsten, were riding on a road in the St. Augustine area when he was struck by a pickup on March 16.
Kirsten Teevens said her husband also suffered a spinal cord injury in the accident. The couple had moved to Boston to continue his rehabilitation closer to loved ones.
Buddy Teevens’ longtime assistant, Sammy McCorkle, has been leading the Dartmouth football team this season as interim coach. The Big Green opened the season last weekend with a loss to New Hampshire.
The school said McCorkle informed the team of Teevens’ death Tuesday, and the Big Green planned to play its home opener Saturday against Lehigh. There will be a moment of silence before the game and a gathering of remembrance afterward.
Teevens was a former star Dartmouth quarterback who went on to become the school’s all-time leader in wins with a 117-101-2 coaching record in 23 seasons. He coached the Big Green from 1987-1991 and returned in 2005. His teams won or shared five Ivy League championships.
In 1978, Teevens was the Ivy League player of the year, leading Dartmouth to a league title. He also was a member of the school’s hockey team.
He began his coaching career at Maine and in between his stints at Dartmouth he served as head coach at Tulane and Stanford. He was also an assistant at Illinois and at Florida under Hall of Fame coach Steve Spurrier.
But Teevens’ lasting legacy will be in his efforts to make football safer.
He reduced full-contact practices at Dartmouth in 2010 by focusing on technique, while still leading winning teams.
He also led the development by Dartmouth’s engineering school of the the Mobile Virtual Player, a robotic tackling dummy that has also been used by other college programs and NFL teams.
“Either we change the way we coach the game or we’re not going to have a game to coach,” Teevens told the AP in 2016 after Ivy League coaches voted to eliminate full-contact practices during the regular season.
Teevens also tried to create more opportunities for women in college football, hiring Callie Brownson to be an offensive quality control coach for the Big Green in 2018. She was believed to be the first full-time Division I female football coach.
“Buddy was a Dartmouth original,” Beilock and Harrity said in their letter. “He will be greatly missed and dearly remembered by so many members of the community whose lives he touched and changed for the better.”
Teevens, who was born in Massachusetts, is survived by his wife, their daughter, Lindsay, and son, Buddy Jr., along with four grandchildren.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll