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“Explainer: How ‘Insider’ Access Made San Francisco Chronicle and Berkeley J-School Miss Real Story Behind Death of Cal Football’s Ted Agu,”

Complete headline links to our Ted Agu series:

Installments to date in THE TED AGU PAPERS:




by Irvin Muchnick


As Concussion Inc. has been reporting, the University of California system seems to be taking kneel-down snaps in response to our questions about a murky “review” of UC Berkeley football strength and conditioning coach Damon Harrington. The review was co-conducted by Dr. Jeffrey Tanji, a director of the sports medicine program at UC Davis.

To the extent university officials are determined to run out the clock on the full scandal of the background of Ted Agu’s $4.75-million death, the clock they’re running out is only for the first half.

In Harrington’s testimony in the recently settled wrongful-death lawsuit by Agu’s family, Coach Harrington mumbled a few grudging responses to questions about his review, or counseling, or whatever you want to call it. This was precipitated not just by the death, on his negligent watch, but also by a player’s complaint, to police as well as Cal officials, about the “toughness” culture in the regime of Harrington and his boss, head coach Sonny Dykes. Three months before Agu collapsed multiple times during a brutal hill-climbing drill — the last time, fatally — another player, J.D. Hinnant, had beaten teammate Fabiano Hale senseless, arguably after being incited by Harrington.

The Harrington deposition reveals that he was reviewed by Dr. Tanji, in association with a strength and conditioning professional named John. I’ve learned that John was John Murray, a San Francisco-based conditioning guru who was on the staff of the Golden State Warriors from 2004 to 2011.

Murray told me, “Regarding the Teddy Agu case, I would refer you to Dr. Tanji or the Cal coaching representatives. My role was very limited and nothing that I would choose to comment on at all.”

As for Tanji, I think we now can officially classify him not as hiding in an undisclosed location, but rather as taking cover from the UC Davis sports medicine spokesperson, who today said: “Dr. Tanji received no compensation for his review of the UC Berkeley strength and conditioning program, and there is no conflict of interest in a faculty member at one campus of the University of California assisting another campus in this way.”

We are around five weeks away from a full response from the Berkeley chancellor’s office to a California Public Records Act request for internal documents relating to Tanji’s review of Harrington. We also have asked the UC system general counsel, Charles Robinson, to order compliance with a records act request for emails between Tanji and Cal coaches and administrators.

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick