University of California Releases 2014 Internal Review of Football Strength Coach Damon Harrington; Asserts That Player’s Police Statement Is Exempt From Public Disclosure

San Francisco Chronicle ‘Big-Foots’ Concussion Inc.’s Investigation of University of California Football’s Ted Agu Death Scandal — And Continues to Tell Only Half the Story
June 30, 2016
Player’s Statement About Cal Football Coach Damon Harrington — Concealed by Campus Police and Not Sought by County Prosecutor — Holds Key to Unlocking Scandal of Ted Agu’s Death
July 1, 2016

“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


University of California-Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks this afternoon released to Concussion Inc. the full text of an internal review of the strength and conditioning program of assistant football coach Damon Harrington, which was submitted in June 2014, four months after the death of player Ted Agu during an extreme workout drill. Earlier this year, the university settled a wrongful death lawsuit by the Agu family for $4.75 million.

Cal’s release of the report follows publication this morning of a story in the San Francisco Chronicle that drew both from the report — principally authored by UC Davis sports medicine co-director Dr. Jeffrey Tanji — and from a March 2014 statement to Berkeley campus police by player Joey Mahalic.

In an email to the chancellor’s spokesperson, Dan Mogulof, I argued that the Chronicle’s acquisition of these documents definitively resolved in my favor the law over whether they should be given to me, as well, in fulfillment of earlier requests under the California Public Records Act.

Mogulof then sent us the Tanji report, but said the university considered the Mahalic police statement exempt from disclosure. (If the police statement doesn’t surface by other means, Concussion Inc. will contemplate litigation in state court for release of it.)

The Tanji report is viewable at The full text confirms the accuracy of the criticism of it, in today’s Chronicle’s coverage, for being slipshod in its methods as well as disqualified by the conflicts of interest of Dr. Tanji (who trained head Cal football team physician Dr. Casey Batten) and athletic training guru John Murray (a personal friend of head Cal athletics trainer Mike Blasquez).

However, nothing exposes the extent of the inadequacies of the Tanji-Murray review better than full publication of it, something the Chronicle has the capacity to do but chose not to do.

In processing the report side-by-side with the deposition testimony of Concussion Inc.’s “Ted Agu Papers,” each reader will have his own favorite passages. For example, the “randomly selected” panel of student-athletes who were interviewed for the report was, in fact, a hand-picked group of players eager to curry favor with Harrington by speaking in support of him, campus sources told the Chronicle.

Mahalic, who played football at Cal after his career as a baseball pitcher in the Cleveland Indians organization was ended by injury, gets cleverly marginalized in this passage of the report: “Only one athlete clearly preferred the more academic approach and rationale by Coach Harrington’s predecessor, Mike Blasquez. This athlete had prior experiences with minor league professional baseball and preferred a less competitive more data driven rationale for conditioning.”

In his deposition, Mahalic described Harrington’s motivational methods thusly:


Q. [Harrington used a] lot of profanity?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. And when the players were engaged in conditioning drills, was that the type of — of profanity and — and verbal abuse that you were talking about?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. Were there a lot of cuss words?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. What type of cuss words?

A. Would you like me to –

Q. Yes.

A. — state. Fuck.

Q. The player was struggling. What would — what would typically be said?

A. I mean, I can’t give you verbatim quotes, but –

Q. Just give me some –

A. Fuck, shit, pussy, God, cock — I don’t know.

Q. Didn’t he specifically say something about [arch-rival] Stanford that you reported to the police

A. Yes.

Q. What was that?

A. He said that Stanford has you bent over with their cock in your ass.

Q. And you found that especially troubling because of the young players on the team?

A. That — that was my biggest concern with what he had to say.


In the Tanji report, it comes out like this: “While athletes, athletic trainers and team physician note that strength coaches will use profanity during training sessions, no one interviewed felt that the language was focused on an athlete in an abusive fashion, or at the team in an abusive manner.”

So … If Harrington (hypothetically) screamed, “Up, down! Let’s fuck those niggers on the other team! Up, down!”, that would be OK because it would not be “focused on an athlete in an abusive fashion, or at the team in an abusive manner”?

Of course, the main link of the case against Harrington is the November 1, 2013, “Code Red” beating by J.D. Hinnant, who at the coach’s instigation put Fabiano Hale in Alta Bates Hospital with a concussion for the infraction of missing a workout the day before. (And in turn Hinnant, a redshirt freshman at the time, was rewarded by the coaches by being suited for the home game that day.)

Now here’s the full treatment of the incident by the no-holds-barred investigative team of Tanji and Murray:


“During the interview process an incident came to light raised by one of the members of the athletic training staff. During the season one member of the football team punched another member of the team in the locker room for not participating in a workout which resulted in the team having to do additional training. While the athlete who punched was suspended—the sentiment was that this athlete ‘sent a message from the rest of the team’ to the athlete who missed the workout. The other athletes not directly involved in the incident felt that this was not encouraged or sanctioned by the strength and conditioning staff, but the action of one athlete to another.”


You can’t avoid three conclusions:

Ted Agu’s was a black life that mattered.

The J.D. Hinnant assault of Fabiano Hale was white-on-white-on-white crime.

The Tanji report is pure whitewash.

Comments are closed.

Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick