Big Green Football Notebook: Fundraising Lifting Dartmouth to Another Level

  • Dartmouth College football coach Buddy Teevens, left, confers with Tom Csatari after practice on Sept. 23. Csatari, like Teevens, is a former Big Green player. He is also a board member for the fundraising group Friends of Dartmouth Football, which brought in roughly $1.5 million last year. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint »

  • Dartmouth College football receivers Emory Thompson, right, and Dylan Mellor peer into the sun to see sideline signals during an Oct. 5 practice on Memorial Field. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint »

  • Dartmouth College football cornerback Danny McManus (2), sheds a blocking bag held by Michael Gordon during an Oct. 4, 2017, practice on the Blackman Fields. Dartmouth visits Sacred Heart this weekend. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint »

  • Dartmouth College running back Matt Shearin darts over obstacles during an Oct. 4 practice on the Blackman Fields. The Big Green (4-0) visits Sacred Heart this weekend. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint »

  • Although he only graduated from Dartmouth College in 2011, former football player Will Deevy donated more than $5,000 to the Big Green's gridiron program last year. The Friends of Dartmouth Football group raised roughly $1.5 million during that time.

Valley News Staff Writer
Friday, October 13, 2017

Hanover  — How much has the fundraising group Friends of Dartmouth Football affected the college’s gridiron team? Coach Buddy Teevens was blunt about it this week.

“Without them, I’m probably not here right now,” said Teevens, who’s serving the 13th year of his second stint on the job and whose 4-0 team visits nonconference foe Sacred Heart on Saturday in Connecticut. “What they’ve done has completely changed our football program.”

The FOF raised $387,000 during the 2008-09 school year, when Dartmouth’s record was 0-10. A review of the program concluded that the Big Green needed more to work with — and much more money with which to make that possible.

By 2011, FOF was raising $1.2 million annually and that amount was up to $1.5 million last school year. The fundraising and use of the money is overseen by Drew Galbraith, a Dartmouth senior associate athletic director, and has touched nearly every facet of the program. In 2015, the Big Green claimed a share of its first Ivy League title since 1996, and it’s 2-0 in the Ancient Eight right now.

“We’re getting players who were recruited by (higher-level) programs,” Teevens said. “When I got here, I said I wanted to do things that a major college team does, without compromising academically.”

Without FOF money, Dartmouth would ride in two buses to road games, its players jammed together. Instead, they’ll ride in three buses, the bigger competitors able to have two seats to themselves so as not to cramp their limbs and torso. 

Big Green players receive a variety of walking-around gear, including T-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, jackets, sneakers and warmup suits. Their game-day uniforms include white, green, black and grey components that can be mixed and matched for different looks. The ability to do this is funded in part by FOF cash.

The medical trainers and equipment managers have more resources, and assistant coaches are able to make more recruiting trips because of the 1,270-member group’s generosity. Teevens, who spends nonstop weeks on the road in December and January, is able to adjust his itinerary on the fly. If a prospect in Arizona commits elsewhere, but a new one pops up in Florida, a few clicks on his smartphone and the boss’ direction changes. In the past, the schedule was set far in advance to save money on flights, hotels and rental cars.

“I don’t like to spend a nickel,” Teevens said. “But this way, if we need to, we can.”

Bob Downey, a 1958 Dartmouth graduate, was the FOF’s driving force for years but has stepped back somewhat in recent years, Teevens said. Byron Anderson, a 1976 graduate and onetime player, is now the chairman, while Chris Jenny ’77, the father of former Big Green quarterback Alex Jenney, is the president. Jay Fiedler, who starred as Dartmouth’s quarterback in the early 1990s and advanced to the NFL, is an FOF officer, as is Brian Conroy ’86, who competed as an undersized cornerback and nose guard without ever seeing significant varsity action.

Office expenses, electronic equipment, virtual-reality gear for quarterback study, regional alumni events — they’re all made possible by the influx of bucks. Every donation prompts a handwritten thank-you note from the coach, who said he sees contributions “from $5 to five figures.” Each donor is listed in the home game programs.

“It’s to let people know they’re part of our team,” Teevens said. “We can’t do it without them.”

A sampling of 2016-17 giving by former players: $20,000-$49,999, Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown ’57; $5,000-$9,999, Will Deevy ’11; $2,500- $4,999, David Shula ’81, onetime NFL coach and son of Hall of Fame coach Don Shula. Also, Teevens; $1,000-$2,499, Jeff Immelt ’78, former chairman of the board at General Electric. Also, Fiedler; $500-$999, John Carney ’78, current governor of Delaware; $250-$499, former New York Jets general manager John Idzik ’82; up to $249, former NFL quarterback Jeff Kemp.

Joining the Dartmouth roster this week are practice kickers Clay Kirkwood and Kalle Wagner. They’re members of the Alpine ski team who shot a silly video of themselves kicking field goals one day and posted it online. As a joke, they tagged the football team. Shortly thereafter, they were asked to come on out and boot for real.

“Our teammates thought it was a joke until I showed them the email,” said Wagner. Added Kirkwood: “It’s not too much of a time commitment, so it doesn’t take away from training for skiing.”

Teevens has used the pair for kickoffs thus far, not wanting to tire or strain the leg of starting kicker David Smith or punter Davis Brief. The new guys wear only helmets, along with T-shirts, shorts and cleats, but are angling for more gear.

“I’m hoping we at least get a cool sweatshirt or something,” Wagner said. “Something to wear around and make the other skiers jealous.”

Three weeks ago, when senior cornerback Danny McManus was involved in a frighteningly violent collision with a Holy Cross receiver and teammate Kyran McKinney-Crudden, one of the folks jogging out to check on him was his brother, Timmy McManus. 

Timmy is a former Dartmouth receiver and the oldest of three brothers and a sister to have attended Dartmouth. A fourth-year student at Ohio State’s medical school, he’s finishing up a monthlong rotation at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and shadows orthopedic surgeon Charlie Carr on football game days.

“I jumped the gun and probably should have stayed on the sidelines,” Timmy McManus said with a bashful chuckle. “But I guess sometimes your big brother instincts kick in.”

Danny, who like the other two players, walked off under his own power, never officially shared a bedroom with Timmy while growing up in Minnesota. But he’d get lonely and bored, would wander in there to play “balloon football” and then snuggled up to his sibling, falling asleep. The adult bond between Timmy, Ryan, a former Big Green receiver, and Danny is striking, and each has been a standout competitor.

“Harvard came after Ryan pretty hard, and I didn’t know where he was going to go,” said Timmy, who’s been sharing a local condominium with his brothers of late. “Danny decided earlier, and athletically and academically and socially, this place has been very good to us.”

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.