Published on December 1, 2019 by Sarah Cain  
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Pat Sullivan, former Samford University head football coach and Auburn football icon, died peacefully at home on Dec. 1 at the age of 69. Sullivan was diagnosed with cancer in 2003 and fought a long and difficult battle with the disease.

Sullivan served as Samford’s head football coach for eight seasons from 2007-2014. As Samford football’s all-time winningest coach, Sullivan led the Bulldogs to four consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 1999 and took the program to its first Southern Conference championship in 2013. Following his time as head coach, Sullivan served as special adviser to the president for campus and community development.

In addition to his successes on the field, Sullivan excelled at developing student-athletes and making a positive impact on the lives of his players.  In 2014, Samford renamed its football field house the Sullivan-Cooney Family Field House to honor the many ways Sullivan contributed to the university. The Samford Legacy League established the Jean and Pat Sullivan Scholarship in 2009. 

"Pat Sullivan gave Samford all and more than we could have asked,” said Samford President Andrew Westmoreland. “His teams won games, his players persisted to earn degrees; by personal example, he led everyone closer to Christ and he brought honor to our university. Along the way, he became a close and cherished friend. We extend our support and sympathy to Jean and the Sullivan family and we remember Pat as making an extraordinary difference at Samford and in all other aspects of his life and career."

Prior to his coaching career at Samford, Sullivan also served on the coaching staffs at Auburn, Texas Christian University and UAB.

Sullivan is widely recognized for his iconic collegiate football career at Auburn. He earned the 1971 Heisman Trophy as quarterback and was named an All-American and the SEC Player of the Year. He helped lead Auburn to three post-season bowl appearances and was named the MVP of the 1970 Gator Bowl and the 1971 Sugar Bowl.

Earlier this year, Sullivan was announced as a member of the 2020 Samford Athletics Hall of Fame class. He is also a member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame, the College Football Hall of Fame and the National High School Hall of Fame.

Sullivan has been married to Jean Hicks Sullivan for 50 years and they have three children, Kim and twins Kelly and Patrick. They have eight grandchildren.

Sullivan Family Statement

"At the age of 69, Patrick Joseph "Pat" Sullivan died peacefully at home on the morning of Sunday, December 1, 2019 surrounded by his loving family. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2003 and fought a long and difficult battle as a result of his treatments. The family is appreciative of everyone's outpouring of love and support."

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. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 37th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 97th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,758 students from 48 states and 22 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 3rd nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.