Football trailblazer and Dartmouth legend Buddy Devens died Tuesday, six months after being critically injured in a bicycle accident, the school announced. He is 66 years old.
“Our family is heartbroken to inform you that our beloved ‘Coach’ has passed away peacefully surrounded by family. “Unfortunately, the injuries he sustained proved too challenging for him to overcome,” the Devens family said in a statement. “Throughout this journey, we have been constantly showered with thoughts, memories and love that he has sent. Your kind and encouraging letters have not gone unnoticed and are greatly appreciated by Patti and our family.
“We are hopeful and comforted that he has passed away knowing how much he was loved and admired.”
Devens is survived by his wife, Kirsten, their children, Lindsay and Buddy Jr., and their four grandchildren. He was an integral part of the Dartmouth community for most of his life, first as a standout player and then as head coach, serving in two stints that spanned nearly 25 years.
“This is sad news for Dartmouth and the entire football world,” Dartmouth President Sian Leah Bailock and Athletic Director Mike Harrity said in an email to the school community. “Not only was Buddy synonymous with Dartmouth football, he was a loving coach and an innovative, inspirational leader who helped shape the lives of generations of students.”
Devens has been one of the most important pioneers in football history, an advocate of player safety and a force for inclusion in the game. Devens was the first college football coach to eliminate live tackling from practice, believing it was an important step to address concerns about head injuries and other injuries in a sport known for violent collisions.
Absence of an Ivy League football star is big, but ‘you can’t hold back Buddy Devens’
Instead, Devens relies on the Mobile Virtual Player, a remote-controlled tackling dummy — a concept he developed with former classmate John Currier in the spring of 2011. Football players have traditionally endured. The practice — which his fellow coaches initially said would cost him his job — has become more prevalent at the collegiate and professional levels.
Later, he became the first college football coach to hire women on his full-time staff. The teens work to identify and develop quality candidates and participate in the NFL Women’s Jobs in Football Forum at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis each year.
“Few people have contributed more to the game than Buddy,” said Devans’ friend and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Athletic In June. “He has so many touch points in the future and the past of the game that it’s unique.”
Devens was critically injured in a bicycle accident on State Road A1A in St. Augustine, Fla., on the evening of March 16. Devens suffered a spinal cord injury and amputated right leg after being hit by a Ford F150. Kirsten said she and Buddy moved to Boston this summer to continue her rehab closer to family and friends.
Sammy McCorkle has served as Dartmouth’s interim coach this season in Devens’ absence. He and Harrity informed the team of Devens’ passing after Tuesday’s practice.
(Photo: Andy Lewis/ICON Sportswire via Getty Images)