Hawaii football: Reactions to death of linebacker Scheyenne Sanitoa, 21

Scheyenne Sanitoa ran a drill in 2018. / Star-Advertiser file photo by Dennis Oda

Linebacker Scheyenne Sanitoa, who was about to begin his junior season in Manoa, was reported dead today by the University of Hawaii football program.

Sanitoa, 21, of Fagatogo, American Samoa, died on Thursday.

In addition to the tweeted statement from UH, the athletic department put out this statement from athletic director David Matlin: “It’s with deep sorrow that we share the tragic news that Scheyenne Sanitoa, a student-athlete with our Rainbow Warrior football team, passed away yesterday at the age of 21. Scheyenne was a tremendous young man and we are devastated by this news.

“Earlier today, the football team was brought together to discuss the tragedy. Campus counselors were on hand and will continue to be available for all student-athletes and staff to help with the healing process.

“It’s always heartbreaking to lose a member of our UH ‘ohana, particularly when it’s one of our young student-athletes. Our deepest thoughts and prayers are with his family, his friends, his teammates, and to all those who knew and loved him.”

Sanitoa, at 6 feet and 220 pounds, appeared in 12 games in 2018 as a redshirt sophomore for UH, starting two. He recorded 30 tackles (21 solo), including four for loss, with two sacks. It was a big jump up in responsibility for him from the previous year, when he was a reserve and special teams player.

UPDATE: According to beat writer Stephen Tsai, head coach Nick Rolovich, who brought in Sanitoa as one of his first recruits, was notified of Sanitoa’s death on the mainland and was en route back to the islands on Friday afternoon.

He graduated from Samoana High School in Utulei, American Samoa, in 2016. He played free safety there and later participated in the JPS Paradise Classic at Aloha Stadium.

According to his UH bio, he had four brothers and two sisters.

The social media outpourings for Sanitoa began before the official word from UH, then kept coming in long afterward. Hashtags of “#Sanitoa” and “#RIP41” began to circulate.

News of Sanitoa’s death spread to national outlets like ESPN.

Scheyenne Sanitoa. / Star-Advertiser file photo by Dennis Oda


  1. H-Man July 5, 2019 2:44 pm

    Condolences to the family. Shocking news.

  2. Haleakala July 5, 2019 2:57 pm

    That is heartbreaking. Deepest Condolences to family and friends.

  3. Abcdeer July 5, 2019 6:01 pm

    Sounds like suicide based on jahlanis tweet.

  4. iGrokSpock July 6, 2019 11:47 am

    Too sad. Rest in peace.

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