Remembering Sal Aunese, 1968-1989
September 24, 1989
Aunese was admitted to University Hospital in Denver last Sunday (Sept. 17), just one day after he had witnessed the first half of CU's 38-7 win over Illinois. The entire team took the field for the coin toss, acknowledging Sal's presence by saluting to the private box where he sat for the game. Standing in the front row, Sal returned his teammates' salute. Inspired by his presence, the team went on to the win, after which Sal was named the Colorado player-of-the-game by CBS (which telecast the game nationally). He had attended all three of CU's games, all of which were in Boulder.
Born Siasau Pepa Aunese on May 8, 1968 in San Diego, Calif., he attended Vista High School in Oceanside, Calif., and was recruited by dozens of schools to play college football. After a tough recruiting battle, he elected to attend Colorado in the spring of 1986.
Sal sat out that first fall as he did not meet the requirements of the NCAA's Proposition 48, delaying his Buff debut until the following fall. He eventually earned the Big Eight's Newcomer-of-the-Year honor for 1987, as he took over the starting quarterback job the fourth game of the season and held it through the end of the'88 season. Colorado was 13-6 in games in which Sal started at quarterback (15-6 in games he appeared in). He set a CU record for the most consecutive passes thrown without an interception (92) as he established the mark over the course of 12 games. His 1,004 passing yards last fall not only helped CU to an 8-4 record, but also marked the first time a CU player hit the 1,000-mark in four seasons.
He was majoring in sociology at CU, and was on course to graduate in 1990 prior to contracting the cancer. He was hopeful of attending school this semester, as he took a summer school course in his major.
He is survived by his parents, three brothers and three sisters, all of Oceanside, Calif. The family spent much of the summer commuting back and forth between Colorado and California, and were summoned to Denver earlier in the week when Sal was readmitted to University Hospital.
A hotline has been setup for people who wish to contribute to the Sal Aunese Fund (c/o Campus Box 368, University of Colorado, Boulder, 80309) which will help off set numerous expenses incurred by his family. That number is (303) 492-3290, and will be staffed between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. for the next several days. Any contributions about the need for medical expenses will go to a scholarship in Sal's name.
A memorial service will be held on the CU campus at 1:00 p.m. Monday. The site will be announced in a forthcoming release.