“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
A two-month search by the public records office at the University of California-Davis, for documents surrounding a controversial report by its medical center’s sports medicine co-director, Dr. Jeffrey Tanji, culminated with a whimper yesterday. The campus said there was nothing to produce other than the whitewash review itself by Tanji, as commissioned by a UC Berkeley vice chancellor, of the strength and conditioning program of Damon Harrington, an assistant to football coach Sonny Dykes.
Michele M. McCuen, a legal analyst for the office of Chancellor Linda Katehi (or is it of Ralph Hexter, the acting chancellor after UC system president Janet Napolitano ordered Katehi put on leave for corruption?), told Concussion Inc.: “Dr. Tanji conducted a thorough search of his paper files and electronic correspondence and did not find any responsive emails or additional documents” in response to our May request for pertinent records under the California Public Records Act (CPRA).
Therefore, McCuen sent along only the four-page report by Tanji in June 2014 — seven months after one of coach Harrington’s players, J.D. Hinnant, criminally assaulted a teammate, Fabiano Hale, in an incident alleged to have incited by Harrington; four months after player Ted Agu died in a Harrington-directed conditioning drill, for which the university would pay out a $4.75 million wrongful death settlement; and three months after player Joey Mahalic reported the darkest explanation of the Hinnant-Hale episode to Cal administrators and campus police.
The Tanji report, co-authored with a San Francisco athletic trainer and coach named John Murray, glibly absolved Harrington. Critics rightly point to the lack of independence of these reviewers: Tanji had long counseled Cal football team physician Dr. Casey Batten — who would spin the Alameda County coroner’s autopsy of Agu and conceal from investigators the player’s sickle cell trait; Murray had worked with the Cal training staff.
Of course, the report given to us yesterday by the Davis campus had already been released to the media by the Berkeley campus. At the time, we uploaded it to http://muchnick.net/tanjireport.pdf.
The first evidence that Tanji is lying when he tells us, via Davis lawyers, that he has no further pertinent documents is in the last line of the report: “Attachment: selection criteria of student athletes chosen for the interviews.” This attachment was not provided yesterday by UC Davis.
Also, the line itself referencing the document had been deleted from the report text sent to me on June 30, and presumably to other reporters as well, by Dan Mogulof, media spokesperson for Cal’s chancellor, Nicholas Dirks.
Concussion Inc. asked legal analyst McCuen of UC-Davis for the attachment. She has not responded.
Inside Tanji’s report, there is plenty of other evidence that he and UC Davis are lying when they say there are “no” other documents aligning with my CPRA request. Of course, in the way of lawyers, they didn’t exactly say that; rather, they said Tanji could not “find” any other pertinent documents — a distinction without a difference in a cover-up.
Higher up in the body of the report, Tanji references the attachment and writes: “I wish to acknowledge the expert and timely collaboration of Associate Athletic Director, Ryan Cobb, whose organizational support was invaluable in preparing this report. Ryan coordinated the meetings with coaches, athletic trainers, team doctor and randomly selected a panel of student-athletes for the interview process.”
Perhaps Tanji, Cobb, and Berkeley’s vice chancellor for administration and finance, John Wilton, who hired Tanji for the report, expect the gullible public to believe that there was only a fandango of phone calls, followed by a gavotte of face-to-face meetings, yielding a zero paper trail of how all this was set up. We’ll be asking these questions of all three.
Meanwhile, a parallel CPRA request by Concussion Inc. to the Berkeley campus has met a stone wall. Liane Ko, coordinator of the public records office there, told me in April, “[W]e have made a preliminary determination that the request likely does seek disclosable records within the possession of the University.” She estimated a full response at eight weeks. We are now at the 14-week mark, and the PRA office is not responding to requests for a status update.
Neither is media spokesperson Mogulof, the person who released the sanitized Tanji report to me on June 30. At the same time, Mogulof seemed to assert his authority to tell me — without an official letter from the PRA office — that my request for Mahalic’s police statement was being denied on grounds of an exemption for police reports.
I wrote earlier, and restate now, that Concussion Inc. is exploring state court intervention to daylight the campus police report of Mahalic’s statement. Like scores of pages of other investigative documents in the aftermath of Agu’s death, this statement was never contemporaneously forwarded by campus officials or the campus police department to the district attorney and other responsible county authorities.
Concussion Inc. also is preparing The Ted Agu Papers for publication to coincide with the start of the football season. All proceeds from the ebook will be donated to sickle cell research and education.