“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:
Installments to date in THE TED AGU PAPERS:
by Irvin Muchnick
On Friday, in response to a faculty petition, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said there would be a new review of the strength and conditioning program of football coach Sonny Dykes’ assistant, Damon Harrington — central figure in both the 2014 death of Ted Agu and a “Code Red” player-on-player assault and battery three months earlier.
Concussion Inc. observes (a) it’s about time and (b) the new-and-improved independent review of the old independent review is almost 100 percent certain to advance only incrementally broader campus accountability for a balls-in commitment to football. This commitment not only is inconsistent with the university’s mission, yadda yadda yadda, but also now has given rise to an unmistakable pattern of criminal acts and criminal cover-up of those acts.
Of course, the San Francisco Chronicle was the first to report on Dirks rushing in to do the right thing, the chancellory thing. See http://www.sfgate.com/education/article/UC-Berkeley-chancellor-orders-new-probe-of-8337633.php.
And of course, the Chronicle didn’t mention that its own crack investigative reporting team, which includes the former editor-in-chief of the Berkeley student newspaper, continues to heed the self-censorship directives of Hearst editors and nervous-nelly lawyers. The newspaper did not originally report Harrington’s well-known incitement of the J.D. Hinnant beatdown of Fabiano Hale, and indeed to this day has not named Hinnant as the assailant whose charges — in a baroque form of pre-prosecution probation much more often used for white perps than for black ones — were “deferred” by the Alameda County district attorney.
Had the newspaper weighed in when it counted, Harrington might have gotten canned in the fall-winter of 2013-14. Ted Agu, on February 7, 2014, might not have been driven to his death by a competitive intrasquad “mental toughness” drill not found in any professional conditioning manual.
The Chronicle also had in its possession all along the essential information on player Joey Mahalic’s March 2014 statement to UC Berkeley police about the maniacal ways of $150,000-a-year strength coach, and self-appointed life-and-death coach, Harrington, for the newspaper’s January 2016 story on the university’s imminent $4.75 million settlement of the Agu family’s wrongful-death lawsuit. But the Chron ignored this angle and chose to focus on things like the football players’ anger over being lied to by the coaching staff and the Cal administration, and not being afforded decent grief counseling.
Had the partnership between the Chronicle and Lowell Bergman’s Investigative Reporting Program at the UC Graduate School of Journalism done its job, the public might have accelerated by half a year Chancellor Dirks’ convenient and belated imprint of bus tire tread marks on the corpus of a coach whose extreme style and profane, homophobic rantings belong at a private CrossFit clinic in another locale and another era.
Now the Chronicle purports to have a copy of Mahalic’s police statement, which the campus cops stuffed away without forwarding to the district attorney (and which county prosecutors refuse to proactively ask to see). But the coverage includes only cherry-picked quotes from the police report. Concussion Inc. is endeavoring to obtain the report — via a court ruling under the California Public Records Act or otherwise.
Your correspondent has seen this movie many times. In 2013 my colleague Tim Joyce and I revealed an Arizona State University campus police report on the serial sexual molestation of a mid-teens club swimmer by a creep coach named Greg Winslow. By then, Winslow was the head coach at the University of Utah, where a whitewash internal report — much like the shoddy, conflicts-infested review of Harrington by Cal athletics cronies Dr. Jeffrey Tanji and John Murray — found no evidence of wrongdoing in the wreckage of a swimming program that included Winslow’s widespread sexual harassment; an affair with an assistant coach; a drunken punch-out of another assistant in sight of athlete-witnesses; a cover-up of a student-athlete’s near-death experience in extreme training at altitude; and racially charged mistreatment of the team’s only African-American swimmer.
But lo and behold, after Winslow was finally on the verge of criminal indictment (after which he was fired and then banned for life by USA Swimming), the trustees of the University of Utah commissioned a new-and-improved “independent” review, directed by a long-time National Collegiate Athletic Association-connected fixer. The report concluded that Winslow should have been dismissed earlier … for being a boozer. Disgraced athletic director Chris Hill, despite mountains of evidence that he ignored and covered up reports of Winslow’s heinous acts, stayed on the job.
Look for something similar to happen here — after which the Chronicle can be expected to nominate itself for press awards for its brave exposure of the evil Damon Harrington, nearly three years after it could have made a real difference.
The University of California and its leaders want all of the responsibility for the damage to health and life of their Division I football program — so long as that can be translated into another seven-figure check out of funds pilfered from classroom education and world-class academic research. As for accountability? Not so much.