How Much Longer Can San Francisco Chronicle and Other Major Media Remain ‘One and Done’ With Back Story of Ted Agu’s Criminal Death Under Cal Football Coaches Sonny Dykes and Damon Harrington?

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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


After a single hyped — and as the evidence shows, obviously self-censored — story on the circumstances of the Ted Agu family’s $4.75 million settlement with the University of California over Agu’s February 2014 death during an extreme football training drill, the San Francisco Chronicle and the rest of the major media pack have stood pat. This is an extraordinarily lazy output in my decades of experience in covering college football death.

In 2001, Chicago newspaper columnists Rick Telander and Jay Mariotti — among others — were all over Northwestern University after Rashidi Wheeler collapsed and died during a weird and punishing set of “voluntary” sprint drills in the August heat of Evanston, Illinois. Head coach Randy Walker kept his job (until his own sudden death nearly five years later), but local and national media at least went through the motions of raising an extended stink.

Not so with head coach Sonny Dykes’ killer Cal Bears program. Despite compelling evidence that, three months before Dykes’ strength coach, Damon Harrington, conducted the self-designed, understaffed, altogether irresponsible hill-climbing and rope-pulling drill during which Agu perished, Harrington had instigated a criminal assault by a player on a teammate.

Yet blissful silence still obtains in local newspapers, radio, television. The Chronicle and its partners at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism’s misnamed Investigative Reporting Program won’t even confirm that they possess essentially the same set of deposition transcripts from the Agu civil litigation that Concussion Inc. is now publishing as the “Agu Papers.” These documents offer a shockingly redundant indictment of a great public university that has let its football program spiral out of control and successfully “buried the lead” of Agu’s death.

Meanwhile, the Alameda County district attorney, which “deferred” charges against football player J.D. Hinnant in the November 2013 assault of Fabiano Hale, won’t even say whether it will ask the Berkeley campus police to forward a March 2014 statement to the police, by another player, detailing Harrington’s role in that incident.

An email campus faculty budget forum, however, is roiling with discussion of all this. “All this” includes the question of how Cal, in the midst of an historic budget deficit and plans by Chancellor Nicholas Dirks to cut muscle out of academic programs, justifies the multimillion-dollar Agu settlement, which is untethered to any conversation about whether Dykes and Harrington should keep their jobs, or instead go peddle their “down south toughness” back where they came from.

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick