In a surprise appearance at the FUMA Sports Hall of Fame this past weekend, Eddie George, the NFL great All-Pro running back and alumnus of Fork Union Military Academy, announced that he would be the first pledged donor in establishing the H. M. Sullivan Chair of Excellence for Prep Football, an endowment fund that will stand in perpetuity to support the position of Head Prep Football Coach.
In a weekend full of highlights honoring Fork Union Military Academy's newest inductees into the school's Sports Hall of Fame, the biggest surprise of all may have been when COL Tripp Billingsley suddenly stopped in the middle of his introduction of inductee and longtime prep football coach Micky Sullivan. As the unexpected silence filled the room, there was a rustling at the entrance to the room and out walked Eddie George to finish Coach Sullivan's introduction. George wanted to pay homage to the coach who had developed his skills in high school and set him on his path to success in the NFL, but his appearance at the banquet dinner was kept completely secret and Sullivan's surprise was complete.
In a way, Eddie George was reenacting the surprise that Coach Sullivan had played upon him at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York City back in 1995, when Sullivan staying hidden from view until George was presented with the Heisman Trophy, then stepped out to congratulate his young protege and let him know that he was celebrating with him at one of his highest moments of recognition.
On this special night of recognition for Coach Sullivan and the other inductees to the FUMA Sports Hall of Fame, Eddie George not only completed the introductory remarks for Sullivan, but he also made this exciting announcement that will have a profound effect in supporting the prep football program and honoring Coach Sullivan into the future.
Tripp Billingsley, the Academy's Director of Advancement, explains that the creation of a Chairs of Excellence program will have a significant impact on the Academy because each Chair of Excellence the Academy establishes will provide funding for salaries and benefits from endowed funds rather than from the school's annual operating budget. Gifts to these Chairs of Excellence accounts will establish a corpus from which a Board of Trustees approved percentage may be drawn each year to help finance the teaching or coaching position that the Chair endows. Each Chair of Excellence is considered fully funded upon the Academy's receiving $2,000,000 in donations on its behalf.
This first Chair of Excellence to be created for Fork Union Military Academy honors the dedication and service of H. M. "Micky" Sullivan, Fork Union Military Academy Class of 1967, and this Chair of Excellence endowment fund will stand in perpetuity to support the position of Head Prep Football Coach.
"Coach Micky Sullivan is widely known as the architect of the Fork Union Military Academy Prep Football program," stated Billingsley, "and the establishment of this fund will allow his name to remain tied to the position of Head Coach forever, thus ensuring that the impact he had on generations of cadets on the field, in the classroom and in the barracks continues."
Micky Sullivan came to Fork Union Military Academy from Huntington, WV, graduating with the class of 1967. After returning to FUMA for a postgraduate year he received a football scholarship to East Tennessee State University. He was a member of the 1969 squad that won the Ohio Valley Conference championship and Grantland Rice Bowl. He graduated in 1971 with a Bachelor of Science degree in history.
During his time at the Academy (1975-1980 & 1983-2017), Micky Sullivan taught math and driver's education and served as a member of the Commandant's Department. He also was an assistant coach for the postgraduate football team, the prep basketball and baseball teams, and the track team, as well as head coach for the junior prep basketball, prep lacrosse, and prep wrestling teams.
He became head prep football coach in 1986 and during a tenure running through the 2012 season compiled a record of 200-118-3, winning nine state championships, twelve Prep League championships and nine VISFA Coach of the Year awards.
He served as Athletic Director from 1995 until his retirement, impacting all areas of the Academy's sports programs through his support of coaches and enthusiasm for cadets.
Micky and his wife Kathy, married in 1971, have three daughters, Kate Melton, Emily Morris and Laura Owens, and five grandchildren, Addison, Drew, Neely, Kellen and Brody.
"Talented educators like Micky Sullivan are not only a key factor in the Academy's athletic success but teach and reinforce the mission of Fork Union Military Academy through their interactions with the Corps of Cadets," Billingsley said. "I ask that all of our alumni, friends, and benefactors please help us ensure we continue to attract and retain the best and brightest educators by supporting our Chairs of Excellence project."
Donors wishing to make a gift to The H. M. Sullivan Chair of Excellence in honor of Coach Micky Sullivan may contact COL Tripp Billingsley at or make a gift online designating the fund at forkunion.com/donate.