- Dartmouth College's preseason football camp began this week with two women serving as coaching interns. Coach Buddy Teevens hired Chenell Tillman-Brooks and Callie Brownson as full members of the coaching staff for the first two weeks of camp.
- Teevens said in a statement: "My hope is that they take as much information back with them as they can, particularly our safety initiatives like not tackling in practice." Teevens is a noted pioneer of no-tackle practices to help reduce head injuries.
- The women will support and organize on-field drills, but due to NCAA regulations they cannot instruct. Tillman-Brooks and Brownson, both football players, caught Teevens's attention when he hired them to coach along with 14 other women at a women's football clinic and one-day camp. "I discovered that there are likely hundreds of females coaching at the Pop Warner level, so why not help them get access to as much knowledge and expertise on the game and player safety as possible?" he said in the statement.
Promoting player safety ought to be top of mind for coaches of all college sports as the fall semester begins and as national news heats up about the death of 19-year-old University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) football player Jordan McNair of heatstroke.
The Maryland system Board of Regents Friday unanimously voted to assume authority and control over all aspects of the investigation into McNair's death two weeks after collapsing a May practice. The board will also assume control over the commission formed to investigate the football program's culture, which ESPN reported as having a "toxic culture."
While McNair's death has been in the national spotlight, the university certainly is not the only college that has faced a student-athlete tragedy. According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, 11 college football players have died of heatstroke since 1995, though the numbers declined to an average of 2.2 annually between 2011 to 2015 from 4.4 annually between 2006 and 2010. Meanwhile, 23 Division I football players alone died from indirect causes since 2000. Most of the deaths followed conditioning drills or other workouts, as did McNair's.
UMD President Wallace Loh said in a statement last week that the university accepts "legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes that our training staff made on that fateful workout day of May 29," but many have called for his resignation due to his slow response to the tragedy. During the past academic year, several institution leaders were forced to resign or were fired due to scandals and other incidents on campus.
With students and the public increasingly seeking change and accountability, administrators should be proactive and prepare for these issues so they can take quick action when they arise.