BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Pat Sullivan, the 1971 Heisman Trophy winner at Auburn who went on to coach Texas Christian University and Samford, has died. He was 69.
The former quarterback was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2003.
Mr. Sullivan was a College Football Hall of Famer who played four seasons with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, wrapping up his playing career in 1976 with the Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers.
He was on the search committee when Auburn hired coach Gus Malzahn.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Pat Sullivan, one of Auburn’s all-time greats on and off the field,” Malzahn said. “I will forever be indebted to coach Sullivan for helping bring me back to Auburn to serve as the head football coach.
Mr. Sullivan began coaching at Samford in 2007 and stepped down in December 2014, citing health issues
‘‘Coaching is a grind. Right now I need more balance in my life,’’ Mr. Sullivan said in announcing his resignation. ‘‘I need to pay more attention to my health and I want to spend more time with [my wife] Jean, my children, and grandchildren. I owe that to them. But I’m not done working and I’m not leaving Samford.’’
He was TCU’s head coach from 1992-97.
“He was a kind and humble gentleman, who was an Auburn legend,’’ Auburn athletic director Allen Greene said. ‘‘He made a lasting impact on Auburn as the school’s first Heisman Trophy winner, a coach, and longtime ambassador.”
Before going to Auburn, he was a three-sport star at John Carroll Catholic High School in Birmingham