Michael “Mickey” Sprinkle
Sport(s) and position(s):
- Basketball, guard
Millikin major: Business, psychology
- Other degrees:
- International Business, Universitae du Poitieu (Poitiers), France
Current employment: Chairman and CEO, American Motel Hotel Brokers Network
Personal Big Blue stats/athletic achievements:
- When I graduated, I was only the sixth player to have scored more than 1000 points at Millikin. There was no three-point shot at that time and many of the points scored were from a distance that today would be considered a three-point shot.
- Scored 18 field goals in one game, which at that time was one shy of the school record of 19 (set by Scott Stegall ’51).
- During my sophomore year, I led the nation for about two months in free throw percentage … this included NCAA Division I schools. I ended that year at third in the nation. At that time, our 1956 team [which included three MU Hall of Fame members: Roger Lotchin ’57, Don Petty ’57 and Sprinkle] was considered the second best team in Millikin history, following the 1950-51 team.
- First Millikin alumnus to play basketball professionally in Europe. Played in Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland and Yugoslavia, to name some venues. Second year playing out of France, averaged 28 points per game, but in those days the games were two 30-minute halves.
Why did you choose MU?
Although I was offered basketball scholarships at the University of Colorado, Drake University and the University of Illinois, my family and I chose Millikin after meeting with coach Ralph Allan and the dean of the business school, Glen Smith. [See most memorable moment, below.]
Aside from Big Blue athletics, what activities did you participate in as a student at MU?
- Vice president of the sophomore class
- President of the junior class
- President of the Interfraternity Council
- Three-time president of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity
- Chosen to escort Homecoming queen at half-time during Homecoming football game
What was your most memorable moment as a Millikin student-athlete?
It might have been how I ended up at Millikin. I had basketball scholarships to Colorado, Drake and Illinois. After visiting Boulder (Colorado), that was my choice! However, my father had a different idea, and as it ended up, he was correct. On a Saturday three weeks before Millikin started school, he loaded me into the car and drove to Decatur. I was not happy! We drove onto the Millikin campus and Dad stopped a gentleman named Walt Witt, who turned out to be the postmaster at Millikin. Dad said, “I have a son in the back seat that plays basketball. Where can we find the coach?” Mr. Witt asked my name and Dad told him. Witt said, “From Centralia?” Dad said yes. Witt said, “Would you mind if I get in the car and we can go call [men’s head basketball coach] Ralph Allan?” Dad said sure, and that is how I ended up at Millikin. All of the other memorable moments stemmed from that memorable moment, which was, quite frankly, the start of changing my life. I was an immature kid from a small community (Watson, Ill., just south of Effingham) and at Millikin, I was able to mature with less pressure and start the journey toward being a man … and I had a wonderful time doing it!
What are some of your accomplishments since graduating from Millikin University?
I was hired by Procter & Gamble through an interview at Millikin, but was drafted into the military. During military career, graduated from Ft. Gordon with degree in intelligence as a cryptography specialist. After a thorough screening, including a lie detector test and background interviews with Millikin’s dean of business, neighbors, etc., I was granted top secret security clearance and stationed in Poitiers, France, at headquarters for communications intelligence. Personally handled top secret message regarding Gary Powers situation on May 1 and 2, 1960. Was awarded “Top American Soldier for French-American Relations” by U.S. generals stationed in France. Also awarded “American Soldier for American-French Relations” formed by presidents Kennedy and DeGaulle.
After military career, founded American Hotel Motel Brokers Association, now the oldest continuous hotel and motel brokerage and investment firm in U.S. One of top five in this business in the U.S. and internationally.
When not supporting the Big Blue, what is your favorite thing to do?
Participating in family events with my four children, 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Who is your most memorable MU professor/coach/staff and why?
I got to know Millikin’s former president, Dr. Paul McKay, when he visited San Francisco several times after my return from Europe. I would pick him up at the airport and got to know him very well … a great gentleman. Also, of course, Ralph Allan with whom I spent four years, having made the varsity basketball team after playing one game on the freshman-sophomore team. Dr. Elinor Gage worked with me on both my English pronunciation and my grammar, both very important in later life. Glen Smith [former dean of the business school] was my true mentor and was so responsible for me securing a job with Proctor and Gamble, where I learned so much about business.
What advice do you give to current Millikin students about preparing for life after graduation?
If possible, obtain your Master’s/Doctorate in the field of endeavor that excites you. Proceed with enthusiasm with or without additional education. Be honest and competitive. Always keep learning. Never forget your “roots!”