Posted by Joey Mullins on 2008-12-18

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.-Samford University has reached a new five-year deal with head football coach Pat Sullivan, the university announced on Thursday.

"In every respect, Pat exemplifies the qualities that are important to Samford," University President Dr. Andrew Westmoreland said. "People are drawn to the strength of his character, his commitment to his student-athletes, his emphasis on performance in the classroom as well as on the field, and his faith. In addition, his teams win. What more could we ask?"

The new deal will run through the 2013 season. Sullivan was hired as Samford's 35th head coach on Dec. 1, 2006.

Sullivan has improved the team's record in both of his first two seasons at Samford. In the 2008 season, Samford finished tied for fourth in its first season in the Southern Conference, after being picked to finish ninth in the league's preseason polls.

Despite 98 percent of its scoring coming from underclassmen, the team posted an overall record of 6-5, marking the program's first winning season since 2003. Samford led the SoCon in scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense, opponent first downs, time of possession and turnover margin.

"I am excited about Samford football, the program is headed in the right direction," Sullivan said. "We are proud of what we have accomplished over the last two years. The commitment Dr. Westmoreland, Bob Roller and Samford have shown is greatly appreciated. I want to thank our coaches, players, support staff and our fans for all that they do."

After the 2008 season, Samford placed four players on the Coaches' All-SoCon team and five on the Southern Conference Sports Media Association's All-Conference team. Freshman quarterback Dustin Taliaferro was named the league's Freshman of the Year in both polls.

Since Sullivan's arrival at Samford he and his coaching staff have brought Samford two of the top recruiting classes in the program's history.

"It's a pleasure to come to work every day to serve with people like Pat Sullivan," Samford director of athletic Bob Roller said. "Pat and his staff have assembled a football team that entered the highly-competitive Southern Conference and backed down from no one. He has done it absolutely the right way in every respect."

In addition to the successes on the field and in recruiting, Sullivan has made a major impact on the school's fundraising efforts. The Cooney Family Field House, which is named for Birmingham business executive and Samford graduate Gary Cooney, is currently under construction and is scheduled to be completed by the 2009 season. The building will be funded completely from private donations.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.