Auburn's first Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan dies at 69

Auburn football lost an icon on Sunday with the death of Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Pat Sullivan at 69 years old.

The school confirmed the news in a statement provided by Sullivan’s family.

"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 at quarterback for the Tigers from 1969-71 and won the Heisman Trophy during his senior season that saw him throw for 2,262 yards with 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Auburn finished 9-2 that season and lost to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.

Sullivan immortalized alongside Jackson, Newton

He was the first of three Heisman Trophy winners at Auburn. In 2012, the university unveiled a bronze statue of Sullivan outside Jordan-Hare Stadium alongside fellow Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson and Cam Newton. His 53 career passing touchdowns remain an Auburn record.

His No. 7 has been retired at Auburn, and he’s a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

Sullivan’s death arrives a day after Auburn defeated Alabama 48-45 in a thrilling Iron Bowl.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Pat Sullivan, one of Auburn's all-time greats on and off the field,” head coach Gus Malzahn said. “I will forever be indebted to Coach Sullivan for helping bring me back to Auburn to serve as the head football coach.”

After Auburn, Sullivan played four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and one with the Washington Redskins in the NFL.

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Pat Sullivan through the years
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Pat Sullivan through the years
FILE - In this Dec. 2, 1971 file photo, Auburn quarterback Pat Sullivan poses with his Heisman after the presentation at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York. Auburn will honor Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Pat Sullivan before the Nov. 19, 2011 game against Sullivan's Samford Bulldogs. It's to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Sullivan winning the Heisman. (AP Photo/Anthony Camerano, File)
Oklahoma quarterback Jack Mildren meets Auburn quarterback Pat Sullivan and his wife Jean as the opposing Sugar Bowl teams got together for dinner in New Orleans, Dec. 30, 1971. The quarterbacks will meet again Saturday on the football field. (AP Photo)
Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan sits dejected on the Auburn bench after his team suffered a 40-22 loss to the Sooners of Oklahoma, at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, Jan. 1, 1972. (AP Photo)
Pat Sullivan, of Auburn, whose fourth-quarter passing set up the only touchdown for the College All Stars against the Dallas Cowboys, July 29, 1972 in Chicago, was named by teammates as most valuable player on the 1972 squad. Sullivan is the holder of the 1971 Heisman trophy. Dallas won, 20-7. (AP Photo/Larry Stoddard)
Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan sits dejected on the Auburn bench after his team suffered a 40-22 loss to the Sooners of Oklahoma, at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, Jan. 1, 1972. (AP Photo)
FILE - In this Saturday, Sept. 5, 2009, file photo, Samford head coach Pat Sullivan looks up at the scoreboard late in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Central Florida in Orlando, Fla. Sullivan, the 1971 Heisman Trophy winner at Auburn who went on to coach TCU and Samford, died Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019. He was 69. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)
Samford coach Pat Sullivan is recognized on the 40th anniversary of winning the Heisman trophy as quarterback at Auburn before an NCAA college football game between Samford and Auburn on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
NEW YORK , NY - DECEMBER 12: ( L- R ) Bo Jackson (1985), Cam Newton (2010) and Pat Sullivan (1971) the three Heisman Trophy winners from the Auburn University Tigers pose during a portrait session on December 12, 2010 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: Photographer approval needed for all Commercial License requests. (Photo by Kelly Kline/Getty Images for the Heisman)
FILE - In this Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011, file photo, Samford coach Pat Sullivan is recognized with wife Jean on the 40th anniversary of his winning the Heisman trophy as quarterback at Auburn, before an NCAA college football game between Samford and Auburn, in Auburn, Ala. Sullivan, the 1971 Heisman Trophy winner at Auburn who went on to coach TCU and Samford, died Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019. He was 69. (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)
Auburn Heisman Trophy winners are introduce prior to the annual spring A Day game at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., Saturday, April 14, 2012. From let: Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
Samford head coach Pat Sullivan meets with Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn before an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 22: Head coach Guz Malzahn of the Auburn Tigers speaks with head coach Pat Sullivan of the Samford Bulldogs prior to their game on November 22, 2014 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama. The Auburn Tigers defeated the Samford Bulldogs 31-7. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
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Sullivan’s coaching career

He later worked as a color commentator covering the Tigers for Auburn radio and spent six seasons from 1986-91 as Auburn’s quarterbacks coach under head coach Pat Dye.

Later in life he served as the head coach at Samford and TCU, where he recruited Pro Football Hall of Famer running back LaDainian Tomlinson.

Sullivan is survived by his wife Jean, three children and eight grandchildren.

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