Concussion Inc.’s ebook THE TED AGU PAPERS: A Black Life That Mattered — And the Secret History of a Covered-Up Death in University of California Football will be published next Monday, August 22. It can be pre-ordered for $9.99 at http://amzn.to/2aA2LDl. One hundred percent of the royalties are being earmarked for donation to sickle cell disease trait research and education.
by Irvin Muchnick
As I said yesterday while quickly noting that Nicholas Dirks is leaving his post as chancellor of the University of California-Berkeley after three disastrous years, the cover-up of the full circumstances of football player Ted Agu’s death rates as only a minor blot on the Dirks legacy in opinion-making circles — if that.
After all, the Golden Bears are headed to their opening game on August 26, live on ESPN and from Australia. Damon Harrington, the assistant coach whose strength and conditioning program killed Agu, is still in place. So, with a hefty offseason raise, is Sonny Dykes, the head coach who brought Harrington with him from Louisiana Tech, without so much as a local job interview.
Make no mistake: Dirks was not forced out because of any of this. The chancellor got the boot from his boss, UC system president Janet Napolitano, because he was tone-deaf on everything from campus sexual harassment and assault, on the part of athletics coaches and professors alike, to his own perks and patronage while the world’s most iconic public university staggered through an historic budget crisis.
Football, shmootball. Kids, both black and white, croak every year playing football, or trying to play football.
Concussion Inc. dissents from the prevailing view that Agu should not be injected into the public autopsy of Dirks and Dirksism. The idea that this is inappropriate either because football is not important enough or because football is too important — I forget which one is the argument — requires a heavy dose of the same pattern of denial that left a 21-year pre-med student fatally crumpled on a campus hillside in early-morning darkness on February 7, 2014.
The wicked witch, Nicholas Dirks, may be dead, but the pathologically skewed priorities of football-first live on. They live on in the hundreds of millions of dollars of debt service on the expansion of Memorial Stadium. And they live on in the $4.75 million settlement with Agu’s family that the UC regents approved — while they and the state’s media cut off exploring the known record of how this happened.
About that record, at least two open questions remain. The first is whether a meaningful second internal review of the football strength and conditioning program will even happen, after critics of Dirks are finished high-fiveing each other for the campaign that helped force him out of office. And if it does, will the second investigation continue to insult the public’s intelligence by claiming that a player’s Harrington-inspired criminal beating of a teammate, three months before Agu died, has no investigative traction — even though the full background of the incident became part of the more than 100 pages of postmortem reports which were assembled by the campus police but not forwarded to either the Alameda County sheriff (on behalf of the coroner) or the Alameda County district attorney?
The other open question remains open records, in general. In April, Concussion Inc. filed a request with the university, under the California Public Records Act (CPRA), for internal documents related to the J.D. Hinnant assault of Fabiano Hale. So far we have received back exactly one document: a three-page whitewash report penned by a UC Davis doctor with close ties to then UC Berkeley football head team physician Dr. Casey Batten. This was the same Batten who, following Agu’s death, withheld from the medical examiner knowledge of the deceased’s sickle cell trait and lobbied for a finding of heart failure as the cause of death.
The campus CPRA compliance officer told us that additional documents were being assembled and reviewed for possible exemption from disclosure or for redactions, and would be released “on a rolling basis, as they become available.” I’ve seen the same language in response to other requests, but those responses included an estimate for final disposition — most commonly eight weeks. This one did not. That was on July 21.
Concussion Inc. says whoopee for Dirks’ ouster, and may he live well for the rest of his days on his obscene golden parachute. Now, let’s get rolling, “on a rolling basis,” and get to the bottom of the Ted Agu story.
“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 in “THE TED AGU PAPERS” series: