Concussion Inc.’s ebook THE TED AGU PAPERS: A Black Life That Mattered — And the Secret History of a Covered-Up Death in University of California Football is available on Kindle-friendly devices at http://amzn.to/2aA2LDl. One hundred percent of royalties are being donated to sickle cell trait research and education.
by Irvin Muchnick
Concussion Inc. reported Friday that the University of California-Berkeley had just released to us the latest installment of its illegally slow, piecemeal, and incoherent production of internal documents in response to California Public Records Act requests.
These relate to the 2014 death of football player Ted Agu and to the precursor incident, three months earlier, in which player J.D. Hinnant — arguably after being incited by head coach Sonny Dykes’ strength and conditioning assistant Damon Harrington — criminally beat up teammate Fabiano Hale. (Cal last month fired both Dykes and Harrington, for reasons unrelated to these episodes.)
The new document, a five-page campus police incident report filed several hours after the Hinnant attack on Hale at the football complex early on the evening of November 1, 2013, is now viewable at http://muchnick.net/hinnant-haleincidentreport.pdf.
Friday’s summary included most of the highlights from this document. Around 5:30 p.m., a dazed and disoriented Hale staggered into the equipment room at the Simpson training center. He was taken to head team physician Dr. Casey Batten for examination before being transported in turn to the Tang student health center and to the emergency room of Alta Bates Medical Center.
Having been notified of the assault of their son under unknown circumstances, Hale’s parents proceeded to network via phone and text with other Cal football families. The Hales thereupon learned the undisputed basic facts of a one-sided confrontation between Fabiano and J.D. Hinnant. The latter cold-cocked the former in anger over an extra-hard conditioning drill the players had had to endure the day before from strength coach Harrington, as punishment for a teammate’s — Hale’s — absence.
The incident report paints the coaching staff as blasé, at best, about getting to the bottom of the off-field traumatic brain injury visited upon one freshman student-athlete by another. That is perhaps par for the course, especially on the eve of a game. But it’s worth noting that Hinnant, the perpetrator, was in uniform for the next day’s game against Arizona. Ultimately, the Alameda County district attorney would “defer” criminal charges against him.
The reason all this matters in the big picture is that strength coach Harrington’s “toughness” culture change and extreme methods, under the new Dykes regime, were also behind the death of Agu during a bizarre early morning offseason conditioning drill on February 7, 2014. A whistleblower player, Joey Mahalic, complained about these excesses to campus police and university administrators. Last year the University of California regents settled a wrongful death lawsuit by the Agu family for $4.75 million.
The assistant coach who commented to the campus police that the November 2013 investigation of the Hinnant assault inconveniently risked rendering the team “distracted” just before a game was Pierre Ingram (misspelled “Ingman” in the incident report). Ingram, then the running backs coach, was later promoted to recruitment coordinator and wide receivers coach, but got dismissed in 2015 following his arrest in a prostitution sting operation. He is now an assistant head coach with the Fujitsu Frontiers, a professional team in Japan. Via Twitter, Concussion Inc. reached out to Ingram for comment but we have not heard back.
Ingram told the police that some of the players were being housed that night at the Hilton Garden Inn in Emeryville. I will seek clarification from the Cal athletic department as to whether this was a special measure. My guess is that putting up players at a local four-star hotel prior to a home game is a routine line item in Division I college football budgets.
An obvious question raised by the university’s latest cryptic document release is: Is that all there is? The Berkeley public records office accompanied the sphinx-like production of the police incident report with the assertion that my records request was now “closed.” I wouldn’t be so sure that California courts would agree with such an assertion.
First of all — which record request? The one by which I demanded that the university cure its defective response for relevant records of “all” officials, including lame-duck Chancellor Nicholas Dirks; John Wilton, a vice chancellor at the time; Sandy Barbour, the athletic director at the time; Solly Fulp, the deputy athletic director at the time; Ryan Cobb, an associate AD; and team physician Batten?
Another question: What kept this incident report from being released earlier? As readers can see, the document is stamped “Controlled UCPD Document to Daily Cal/PRA by TM #130.” The Daily Cal is the Berkeley campus newspaper. So it is reasonable to infer that this is a reproduction of the fulfillment of another party’s request at an earlier date.
Perhaps the San Francisco Chronicle, too, has long had access to this material. We already know that the Chronicle acquired the depositions in the Agu family lawsuit, yet inexplicably chose to withhold reporting the most important parts: Mahalic’s whistleblowing and the links between the Hinnant-Hale incident and the Agu death. And the Bay Area’s newspaper of record did so at precisely the moment when the university, while buying its way out of the family lawsuit at taxpayer expense, also was giving head coach Dykes a multimillion-dollar raise and contract extension.
“Explainer: How ‘Insider’ Access Made San Francisco Chronicle and Berkeley J-School Miss Real Story Behind Death of Cal Football’s Ted Agu,” http://concussioninc.net/?p=10931
Complete headline links to our Ted Agu series: http://concussioninc.net/?p=10877