Dolph Pulliam, a member of the 1969 Drake University men’s basketball team that advanced to the Final Four, has been named to the 2019 Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fame Class, the league announced Wednesday, Aug. 15.
Pulliam and the other five members of the class will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the MVC’s annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony in St. Louis on Friday, March 8, 2019.
A native of Gary, Ind., Pulliam was regarded as one of the best defensive forwards of his era and a key member of Drake’s 1968-69 team that reached the NCAA Final Four and defeated North Carolina in the third-place game. In the semifinal contest against UCLA, he recorded 12 points, five rounds and six assists against the Bruins along with a critical steal in the final moments of the semifinal loss that nearly upended the UCLA juggernaut. Pulliam finished his career ranked fifth all-time in scoring at Drake with 1,007 career points and still ranks among Drake’s top 25 scorers.
He was drafted by the NBA’s Boston Celtics and courted by the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys in 1969 but elected to forgo his athletic career to remain in Des Moines and become the first African-American television broadcaster in Iowa. Pulliam went on to anchor the mid-day news and hosted two children’s shows: One, Two, Three and Dolph’s Cartoon Corner.
Following many successful years in broadcasting and as a stalwart in the community, he became director of athletic marketing at Drake in 1989 before moving into a position as director of community outreach and development prior to retiring in 2014. Through his work Pulliam has hosted and produced the Beautiful Bulldog Contest, a Drake Relays tradition that gains annual international media attention, for 19 years. He also developed or led many community outreach initiatives, including Halloween Hoops, the Holiday Food Basket program, Drake’s United Way fundraising campaign, and the Holiday Wish program.
Pulliam remained involved with the men’s basketball program throughout his career in Des Moines, serving as the radio analyst for various periods of time, most recently from 2002-14 during which he helped document the Bulldogs’ magical 2007-08 season.
Honored with Drake’s “Double D” Award in 2011 for his tremendous success in his field and impact he has made in the community, Pulliam was inducted into the state of Iowa African-American Hall of Fame in 2006. He also was inducted into the state of Indiana Basketball of Fame in 2009 and has his number retired by Drake.
Pulliam has received numerous awards including the National Recognition Award from the Red Cross, the National Easter Seals Recognition Award, the 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 was a 2010-11 MVC John Sanders “Spirit of the Valley” Award honoree.