Michael Hull, one of the most highly decorated athletes to come through Iola High School, will be honored at his other alma mater, Ottawa University, this week.
Hull, 35, will be inducted into Ottawa’s Athletic Hall of Fame for his standout football career for the Braves in the late 1990s.
The induction ceremony will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Ottawa’s Mowbray Union.
On the Ottawa gridiron, Hull amassed 156 career receptions, good for 2,132 receiving yards and 30 touchdowns for his three years on the team.
He was the school’s first two-time NAIA First Team All-American tight end in 1998 and 1999.
Hull has known for some time about his induction. He was announced for Ottawa’s 2013 Hall of Fame class two years ago, when his older brother, Jeff, was giving his own acceptance speech as part of the OU Hall of Fame.
“I was holding the camera filming my brother, when he introduced me, and told the crowd I was going to be in the hall,” Hull said. “All of the sudden, everybody’s congratulating me. It was pretty cool.”
Hull is in Iola this week with his wife, the former Mary Hastings, in order to attend Thursday’s induction ceremony. The couple live in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with their children, Maddox, Mason and Micah.
A STANDOUT athlete in football, basketball, track and tennis — he was noted by one website as one of the top Kansas high school basketball players of the 1990s — Hull graduated from Iola in 1996 fairly certain of two things: he really wanted to play college basketball, and he really wasn’t all that keen on attending Ottawa, despite his family’s legacy at the school.
His father, former Iolan Dr. Richard Hull, was a four-year starter at defensive end at Ottawa, and a member of the 1970 KCAC championship team. Jeff was a four-year starter on the offensive line in the 1980s. Older sister, Cindy, was an all-conference basketball player at OU as well.
“My grandfather (Robert Hull) was the head of Ottawa’s maintenance department,” he noted. “I can probably count 20 relatives who have attended school there. So, yeah, we had a big family history.”
If Michael had his druthers, he would have headed a little farther north, to play basketball for the University of Kansas.
“But they were pretty loaded,” he recalled, noting the Jayhawks featured such basketball stars as Paul Pierce and Raef LaFrentz at the time.
Michael instead enrolled at the University of Chicago, an NCAA Division III school.
By then, basketball was still an interest, but the calendar soon made football more appealing.
Because it came earlier in the school year.
“And by the time basketball season came around, I was in football shape instead,” he said. “I still played basketball, but I wasn’t as good.”
Hull transferred from Chicago to the University of Kansas after his freshman season, intent on walking on for the Jayhawks football team.
But NCAA rules dictated Hull was going to have to redshirt and sit out a season because of the transfer.
That’s when Ottawa came calling. With a new, young coaching staff, the Braves were interested in having Hull join the football team.
Even better: Ottawa was an NAIA school, so he could play immediately.
Michael’s first season with the Braves was a smashing success. Ottawa went 9-2, winning the KCAC — the school’s first since his father’s squad did so 27 years earlier.
Hull followed that up with 61 catches for 922 yards in 1998, and 56 more receptions for 784 yards in 1999.
He was named an NAIA First Team All-American in 1998 and 1999 and a KCAC first-team selection all three years at Ottawa.
Oh, and he also still suited up for the OU basketball team.
“One of my goals was to catch a pass in every game of my college career,” he said. “I was able to do that.”
Hull earned his accounting degree in 2000, when he embarked on an equally remarkable professional career outside the athletic realm.
After graduation, he moved to Dallas to work for KPMG LLP as a manager in financial advisory services. A brief stint as vice president of corporate restructuring for Mesirow Financial precluded a move to paradise — literally.
Since 2007, Hull has owned and served as president of two tourism businesses, Cabo Submarine, and since early this year, Cabo Jet Pack.
Baja Submarine offers passengers a ride on Hull’s wildly popular yellow submarine.
“It’s great,” he said. “We’ll get people singing the Beatles song while they ride.”
He occasionally meets folks from southeast Kansas on vacation.
“We’ve gotten a lot of people from Iola, Chanute, places like that,” he said. “It’s amazing to see people from around here in another part of the world.”
Hull also looks on with optimism at seeing more advanced youth athletics programs take root in Iola.
“All we had when I was a kid was flag football,” he recalled. “And they’ve really got some nice facilities at the park. I can still remember running on the old dirt track.”