Zunic Awards & More


Presented by the Syracuse Football Club, the Zunic Award was created in 2001 to honor Mike and Judy Zunic, who died tragically on July 18, 1989 when a United Airlines plane crashed in Sioux City, Iowa. The pilot, anticipating landing difficulties, requested if some strong passengers would volunteer to give up their seats and sit at the exit doors to assist passengers in the event of an emergency. Mike and Judy gave up their seats in first class to sit at one of the exit doors. They both died in the crash and those in the Zunics’ original seats survived.

Mike Zunic was a four-year starter at linebacker and earned a bachelor’s degree (1981) and master’s degree (1982) in speech communication from SU.

The award is given to a person(s) who exemplifies courage, self-sacrifice and spirit.

Award Nomination Guidelines

  • 2001: Mr. and Mrs. Zunic,
    Frank Maloney, Gene Grabosky ’60 (posthumous)

  • 2002: Pat ’88 and Kari Kelly,
    Roberta DeLeone

  • 2004: Joshua Frase

  • 2005: Jim Rooney

  • 2006: Rockette Pirro Brunetti,
    Horace Landry

  • 2007: Sylvia Mackey, Chris Ingram ’89 (posthumous)

  • 2008: Robin Griffin ’72, Carlmon Jones, Ron Page ’74

  • 2010: Jim Jerome ’76

  • 2011: John Lally ’82”

  • 2012: Tim Byrne ’87 (posthumous)

  • 2014: Dick Beyer ’53

  • 2015: Frank Conover ’91

  • 2022: Dick Murphy ’67

  • 2023: Rusty Mills ’74

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