Into NFHS Hall Of Fame
NASHVILLE – Pat Sullivan, Auburn University’s first Heisman Trophy winner and a multi-sport star at John Carroll Catholic High School in Birmingham, will be one of 12 members of the Class of 2012 inducted Wednesday into the National High School Hall of Fame.
The 30th annual Hall of Fame induction ceremonies will climax the 93rd National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS) Summer Meeting here at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.
Sullivan, currently the head football coach at Samford University, is one of four athletes being inducted in the Class of 2012. “This is a humbling honor,” Sullivan said Tuesday at the NFHS Hall of Fame press conference.
He was considered the top football player in the state of Alabama in his junior and senior seasons (1967, 1968) as the quarterback at John Carroll. The two-time all-state selection was named the top player in the nation by one publication. He was named all-state twice in basketball, averaging 18 points per game, and in baseball as the team’s shortstop.
At Auburn, he led the Tigers to a 26-7 record in three years as the team’s quarterback, winning the 1971 Heisman Trophy. He played parts of seven seasons in the National Football League before launching his college coaching career. After serving as an assistant at Auburn and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and head coach at Texas Christian University, Sullivan was named head football coach at Samford University in 2006.
Sullivan said of all the contests he competed in as a student-athlete, the defining moment came in high school against Ramsay. “John Carroll was a private Catholic school and Ramsay was defending city champion,” he told a crowd of more than 100 at the press conference Tuesday.
“Our team had just 23 players and we had not played them before. The Thursday before we played them, some of their players rode around out practice letting us know just what they planned to do to us the next night. Well, we went out and beat them 19-13. Of all the wins I was a part of, I think that one was the most memorable.”
A humbled Sullivan said his high school experience was very special.
Already a member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, he said the selection into the NFHS Hall of Fame is special indeed.
“I really enjoyed my time as a high school athlete. I was fortunate to have great high school coaches and teachers and wonderful parents who helped guide me. My teammates will always be special to me.”
Other athletes to be inducted are Kevin Johnson, the leading prep basketball scorer in California in1983, a star at California and a 13-year NBA veteran; Fred Hoiberg, a three-sport high school star in Iowa who played basketball at Iowa State and spent 10 seasons in the NBA; and Tracy Hill, the most prolific scorer in Colorado girls basketball history.
Also to be inducted is Bob Kanaby, former Executive Director of the NFHS.
High school coaches slated for induction include Ron Bradley, who won more than 1,000 basketball games at eight Georgia high schools during a 49-year career; Rod Harman, who just completed his 54th season as a head swimming coach in Oregon at the age of 84;
Larry Luitjens, the winningest basketball coach in South Dakota history; and Catherine Neely, who has coached volleyball at East Ridge High School in Chattanooga for 47 years and ranks third nationally with 1,371 victories.
Truman Owens, a multi-sport official for 50 years from Clinton (South Carolina) and still active in football at the age of 80, and Robert “Bob” White, one of the top high school soccer officials in the nation from Caribou (Maine), are this year’s honorees in the Officials category.
Rounding out the 2012 class is Jan Heiteen, speech coach at Downers Grove (Illinois) South High School since 1980. She has led her teams to 14 state speech championships.
Former AHSAA Executive Director Dan Washburn was inducted last year at the NFHS Summer Meeting in Philadelphia.