“Explainer: How ‘Insider’ Access Made San Francisco Chronicle and Berkeley J-School Miss Real Story Behind Death of Cal Football’s Ted Agu,” https://concussioninc.net/?p=10931
Complete headline links to our Ted Agu series: https://concussioninc.net/?p=10877
Previous installments in THE TED AGU PAPERS:
by Irvin Muchnick
Damon Harrington — the Cal football strength and conditioning coach accused of inciting a player to punch out another one in November 2013, and whose extreme conditioning drill three months later was the setting of Ted Agu’s death — was later suspended by the university for one day as a result of a complaint about his coaching style by yet another member of the team.
This revelation emerges from the transcript of Harrington’s deposition in the recently settled $4.75 million wrongful death lawsuit by the Agu family against the University of California. Concussion Inc. acquired this deposition and many others, and will be publishing them in full in the near future, along with other documents, in a project we are calling “The Ted Agu Papers.”
Harrington’s one-day suspension is the only known consequence so far relating to dissatisfaction with the strength coach’s methods. The suspension developments fell in the same time frame as that of our previous report on a statement given to the Alameda County sheriff by a concerned player in March 2014, a month after Agu died. Harrington’s deposition in the civil lawsuit was on November 7, 2014 — exactly nine months after the fatality on a campus hillside near Memorial Stadium. However, it is not known at this time if the sheriff’s report was the same as a complaint by the player to Cal officials, or even if the reference in the deposition is to the same complaining player as the one who gave a statement to the police.
At the deposition, Agu family attorney Jeff Murphy asked Harrington, “Was the strength-and-conditioning program — or you, in particular, were you ever investigated or, for lack of a better word, interviewed or talked to about what had happened?”
The transcript continues:
Q. Okay. Who talked to you about that?
A. One, the police.
A. [Campus police.]
A. Two, I don’t remember the names of the guys specifically. There was a — a medical doctor, and there was a former strength coach.
Q. Yeah. Counsel produced that. I think it was Mr. — Dr. Tanji.
[Reporter’s note: Dr. Jeffrey L. Tanji is co-director of the sports medicine program at UC Davis.]
Q. He talked to you about the program?
Q. Did anybody else at Cal — anyone: Coaches, administrators — talk to you about your conditioning program or this particular drill?
Q. Were you ever reprimanded or suspended or anything like that as a result of this drill?
A. There was a day that I — that I was — I — I believe — I don’t know — no. That wasn’t because of this drill. No.
Q. It was for a different reason?
A. I’m trying to think. Yes.
Q. Didn’t have anything to do with this drill?
Q. You were never reprimanded or suspended or — did anything at all happen to your work status as a result of this incident?
Later attorney Murphy asked, “When were you reprimanded? Was it after Ted’s death?”
Q. And what — what was it related to? […] Did it have anything to do with the Fabiano Hale incident?
Q. Did it have anything to do with football?
A. As far as —
Q. Strength and conditioning?
Q. [I]t’s my understanding from talking to counsel off the record that that had something to do with a complaint that was made by a player about your coaching style?
Q. Is — okay. What — what were the specific complaints?
A. I wasn’t told specifically what the complaints actually were. Uh, I was just told that there was complaints, uh, and so they were trying to, you know, sort through it.
Q. And did they talk to you at all while they were sorting through it, or is this where this Dr. Tanji came in?
A. That was the reason Dr. Tanji and the strength coach, John — I can’t remember his last name — came in, because of this.
Q. Did Dr. Tanji interview you?
Q. And what did you tell him?
A. I can’t recall specifically what — what I said, but I did — I interviewed with him, and he just, from what I can remember, just had general questions about what we did.
Q. Did he ask you questions specifically about what happened on February 7th at that drill?
A. I believe so. Yes.
Q. Was the — did the complaint have to do — what you say “coaching style,” it have to do with the way you talked to the kids, or your style of sessions, or do you know?
A. I — I don’t know. I was never —
Q. Were you ever advised or told by anybody that you should change the way you run your workouts?
Q. There was no change made to any of the workouts?
As we’ve reported, the player who spoke to Alameda County sheriff investigators referred to Harrington’s arguable incitement of the November 1, 2013, attack by J.D. Hinnant on Fabiano Hale, when the coach put the non-travel group through a brutal, vomit-inducing drill as punishment for Hale’s absence from a conditioning session, and suggested that others besides himself should take matters from there.
The testifying player also spoke of his concern over Harrington’s elevation of “toughness” over everything else, over the coach’s language, and especially over his saying to athletes who struggled during a workout, “Stanford has you bent over with their cock in your ass.”
I am seeking elaboration and further comment from Dr. Tanji on how he investigated or reviewed or counseled Harrington.
In addition, as previously noted, public document requests have been filed both with the university (for internal emails and files pertaining to a review of the football strength and conditioning program) and with the county (for the March 2014 police report).
Previously, a spokesperson for Chancellor Nicholas Dirks has said he will not comment on a “personnel” matter. And he referred questions about the foul and homophobic coaching language to a counterpart at the athletic department, who has not responded.