Former Auburn quarterback, Heisman winner Pat Sullivan dead at 69

Local News

Pat Sullivan / Courtesy on behalf of Todd J. Van Emst – Auburn Athletics Photographer.

AUBURN, Ala. (WIAT) – Pat Sullivan, former Auburn quarterback and Heisman winner, has passed away.

The Sullivan family released the following 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.”

Sullivan played three seasons for the Tigers, winning the Heisman trophy during his senior season, when he threw 162-281 for 2,012 yards and 20 touchdowns. He was a two-time All-American and named the SEC Player of the Year as a junior and senior.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn released a statement following the news of Sullivan’s passing.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Pat Sullivan, one of Auburn’s all-time greats on and off the field. I will forever be indebted to Coach Sullivan for helping bring me back to Auburn to serve as the head football coach. He was a friend, mentor and a man of great character, who was beloved by many generations of Auburn fans.  Pat Sullivan is, and always will be, the definition of an Auburn Man. He certainly will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with Pat’s wife, Jean, their three children and the entire Sullivan family.”

Auburn Athletic Director Allen Greene also released a statement.

“On behalf of the Auburn family, we are heartbroken by the passing of Pat Sullivan. He was a kind and humble gentleman, who was an Auburn legend. He made a lasting impact on Auburn as the school’s first Heisman Trophy winner, a coach and longtime ambassador. We extend our deepest condolences to the entire Sullivan family.”

A Birmingham native, Sullivan was a three-sport star at John Carroll Catholic High School, before going on to play football at Auburn in 1968.

Sullivan played for the Falcons from 1972-76, leaving the league to become a football coach. Sullivan joined the Auburn coaching staff as the QB coach in 1986, working with then-head coach Pat Dye. From Auburn, he left to be the head coach at Texas Christian University, the offensive coordinator at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the head coach at Samford University.

From 1999 to 2006, Sullivan coached the Blazers alongside head coach Watson Brown.

He recruited and coached Darrell Hackney, who went on to play in the NFL.

In 2004, UAB earned the program’s first bowl bid to the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.

UAB Athletics Director Mark Ingram released a statement following Sullivan’s passing.

“Our hearts go out to the entire Sullivan family who lost a tremendous person. Pat touched so many lives, including those at UAB, and we are tremendously saddened by the news over the weekend. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Sullivan’s and their many friends.”

Sullivan was the Samford head football coach from 2007 to 2014. In 2013, Sullivan led the Bulldogs to their first Southern Conference championship since joining the league in 2008.

Samford President Dr. Andrew Westmoreland released the following statement.

“Pat Sullivan gave Samford all and more than we could have asked.  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.”

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