“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
The controversial 2014 “independent review” of the strength and conditioning program of Damon Harrington, an assistant to Cal football coach Sonny Dykes, appears to have been based in part on an interview with J.D. Hinnant, the player who allegedly had assaulted teammate Fabiano Hale after being incited to do so by Harrington. Yet Hale, the victim of the attack, was not invited to participate in the series of interviews conducted by Harrington review report co-authors Dr. Jeffrey Tanji and John Murray.
The news that the Harrington review so skewed the list of players who were interviewed or invited to be interviewed is certain to fuel already existing criticism that the Tanji report was biased, unprofessional, and flawed by the conflict of interest of Tanji’s longstanding relationship with Cal football team physician Dr. Casey Batten.
After Concussion Inc. earlier today published a heavily redacted attachment to Tanji’s report listing player-interviewees, we received an unredacted list of all the players’ names. The information came from a source close to Cal football whom we consider unimpeachable.Though not ready to publish the new full document, I am convinced that it is authentic.
The earlier redacted document, published at http://muchnick.net/tanjiattachment.pdf, is a spreadsheet listing 29 names of potential student-athlete interviewees. Twenty of the names were randomly generated. The other nine were “asked to join” the interviews, according to the document released by the University of California’s Public Records Act office.
In the leaked document received just hours ago, Hinnant is listed as among the nine “asked to join.” Since it is not known if he was one of the two, out of these nine, who declined to be interviewed, it remains remotely possible that Hinnant was invited but declined.
Hale is on neither the “random” list nor the “asked to join” list.
On October 31, 2013, Hale skipped a conditioning workout for the non-traveling members of the football team. At least two players have testified that after Harrington collectively punished all those present by putting them through an extra set of extreme drills, causing widespread vomiting, the coach issued an effective “code red” on Hale. Harrington said anyone who had a problem with what had just happened should solve it “by any means necessary,” and punctuated the remark by slamming a fist into his other hand.
The next day, according to multiple team sources, Hinnant sucker-punched and kicked Hale in a one-sided altercation that sent the latter to the Alta Bates Medical Center emergency room with a concussion. Later that day, Hinnant routinely suited up for the Golden Bears’ home game against Arizona.
The Berkeley campus police report on the incident was forwarded to the Alameda County district attorney, who decided to put Hinnant on a pre-prosecution form of probation known as “deferred charges.” The three-year statute of limitations on this crime expires on November 1, 2016.
Three months after the Hinnant assault of Hale, coach Harrington directed a custom-designed extreme offseason conditioning drill, in early-morning darkness on a campus hillside, during which player Ted Agu died of heart failure brought on by an unattended sickle cell trait episode. Earlier this year, the Agu family settled a wrongful death lawsuit against the University of California regents for $4.75 million.
Unnoticed until recently, however, is that a month after Agu died, in March 2014, player Joey Mahalic, a whistleblower of Harrington’s alleged “code red” the previous November, spoke to university administrators about the coach’s alleged excesses and reported them to campus police.
County prosecutors have admitted to Concussion Inc. that they were not forwarded the campus police report with Mahalic’s statement until after the lawsuit settlement, when our publication of deposition excerpts in the Agu lawsuit intensified scrutiny of both Harrington’s program generally and his specific role in the Hinnant-Hale incident.
As soon as I received today’s information about the Tanji report interview list, I contacted for comment both Wesley Mallette, the Cal athletics director of strategic communications, and Dan Mogulof, who handles media relations for Chancellor Nicholas Dirks. We will publish in real time an update with any response we might receive from them.