The Missouri Valley Conference awarded Drake University administrator Dolph Pulliam the 2010-11 John Sanders ‘Spirit of The Valley’ Award in St. Louis on March 3.
The Missouri Valley Conference presents the “Spirit of The Valley” Award to honor a student-athlete, coach or university administrator who exemplifies the spirit of the late John Sanders, former MVC assistant commissioner for operations. Criteria includes, but is not limited to, passion for the conference, strong work ethic and sense of humor.
“Each and every Missouri Valley Conference award has its place,” said MVC Commissioner Doug Elgin, who is in his 23rd year with The Valley. “The John Sanders ‘Spirit of The Valley’ Award holds a special meaning for not only our staff but for the league as a whole. “Dolph Pulliam certainly embodies John’s spirit and has been one of the greatest ambassadors that Drake University and the Missouri Valley Conference have ever known. We are thrilled that we have an opportunity to recognize him.”
The league began presenting the award in 2005, when former Indiana State director of athletics Andi Myers became the first recipient. Since then, Missouri State director of athletics Bill Rowe (2006), MVC television personality Mitch Holthus (2007), Southern Illinois radio play-by-play voice Mike Reis (2008) and former MVC coordinator of men’s basketball officials Johnny Overby (2009) and Missouri State women’s athletics pioneer and administrator Mary Jo Wynn (2010) have been honored.
A native of Gary, Ind., Pulliam has been involved as a basketball student-athlete, radio broadcaster and administrator at Drake University for a span covering 45 years.
A three-year letterwinner for the Bulldog men’s basketball team from 1966 to 1969, Pulliam was an integral part of the Drake 1968-69 team, which reached the NCAA Final Four and defeated North Carolina in the third-place game. Following his collegiate career, he was drafted by the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association and the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League.
However, he elected to remain in Des Moines, becoming involved in numerous community and statewide projects while also becoming the first African-American television broadcaster in the state of Iowa.
After leaving the television industry in 1989, he became the director of athletic marketing at Drake before moving to his current position as director of community outreach and development in the university alumni department. He still remains active in the Drake athletic scene as a radio analyst for Bulldog men’s basketball games.
Pulliam has received numerous state and national distinguished service awards, including the National Recognition Award from the Red Cross, National Easter Seals Recognition Award, Alice Whipple Community Service Award for the Iowa Federation of Labor and the Silver Beaver Award from the Mid-Iowa Boy Scouts of America.
He has been honored with Drake’s Madelyn M. Levitt Distinguished Community Service Award, presented with the university’s Alumni Distinguished Service Award and the Drake Double D Award.
He was inducted into the state of Iowa African-American Hall of Fame in 2006. In conjunction with Drake’s 100th anniversary of men’s basketball, Pulliam was named as one of the 20 greatest basketball players in Bulldog history. In the spring of 2009, he was inducted into the state of Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and had his jersey (number 5) retired by Drake University.
Watch Pulliam’s reaction to being honored with the award: [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrBajwTlltA&hl=en&fs=1]