Dartmouth football coach Eugene F. “Buddy” Teevens, a fierce advocate and innovator for player safety, died on Monday at 66 years old.
His family announced his death in a statement shared by Dartmouth, months after Teevens was in a bicycle crash that cost him his right leg and left him with a spinal cord injury.
“Our family is heartbroken to inform you that our beloved ‘coach’ has peacefully passed away surrounded by family,” the statement reads. “Unfortunately, the injuries he sustained proved too challenging for even him to overcome. 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’ football legacy
Teevens played quarterback at Dartmouth from 1976-78. He was named Ivy League Player of the Year in 1978 while leading the Big Green to a 6-3 record and the Ivy League title. He coached two stints at Dartmouth, from 1987-91 and from 2005 until his death.
Teevens is Dartmouth’s all-time winningest coach with a 117-101-2 record. He led the program to five Ivy League titles. He also coached at Tulane, Stanford and Maine. He was twice named Ivy League Coach of the Year and was beloved within and around the Dartmouth program.
“This is tragic news for Dartmouth and the entire football world,” a joint statement from Dartmouth president Sian Leah Beilock and athletic director Mike Harrity reads. “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 was a staunch player safety advocate and innovator
Teevens advocated for player safety and instituted practices that prioritized the health of his team. He eliminated live tackling from practice in 2010 in an effort to reduce concussions and other injuries.
“In four years, you will never tackle another Dartmouth football player,” Teevens promised to recruits.
Players instead tackled dummies including a “Mobile Virtual Player” developed by Dartmouth coaches, faculty and engineering students that mimicked the movements of a live player on the field.
Teevens testified to U.S. Congress in 2016 that eliminating tackling in practice resulted in a reduction in concussions including a 2015 season where no Dartmouth defensive player was concussed. He advocated to the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee for the elimination of tackling at practice at the youth and high school levels
“Unless we change the way we coach, we won’t have a game to coach,” Teevens said, per the Associated Press.
Dartmouth continued to succeed on the field after Teevens eliminated live tackling from practice. The Big Green posted nine winning seasons out of 12 since 2010 while winning three Ivy League titles.
“I love football, but I love my players more,” Teevens said.
Teevens was hit by a truck while riding his bike
Teevens’ wife Kirsten Teevens announced in April that he had been struck by a truck weeks prior while the two were riding bicycles in Florida, confirming earlier reports that he had sustained “serious” injuries. Teevens sustained spinal cord damage and had his right leg amputated following the crash. A police report states that the two were riding home from a restaurant on March 16 in St. Augustine, Florida and that Teevens was struck while attempting to cross a thoroughfare near the Atlantic coast around 8:40 p.m.
Kirstin issued a message of thanks to his supporters in the aftermath of the crash.
“We would like to thank everyone for the incredible outpouring of love and support for Buddy,” Kirstin’s statement read. “It has been nothing short of amazing and we are so grateful.”
Dartmouth announced in April that associate head coach Sammy McCorkle would take over as head coach in the interim. Dartmouth kicked off its football season last week against New Hampshire and will play Lehigh on Saturday. The program has planned a pregame moment of silence for Teevens and a postgame gathering of remembrance.
Teevens is survived by his wife, Kirstin, their children Lindsay and Buddy Jr. and four grandchildren.