This Is What a Cover-Up Looks Like: Cal AD Sandy Barbour Gets Briefed in 2014 on “the ‘Review’” of the Football Conditioning Program That Killed Ted Agu

Work on UC Berkeley’s ‘Review’ Following Death of Football Player Ted Agu Took All of One Day And Was Directed by University Lawyer and Athletic Department, Internal Emails Reveal
December 16, 2016
BREAKING: UC-Berkeley Releases Three More Documents on the Post-Ted Agu Death Internal Investigation Referred To As ‘The “Review”‘
December 20, 2016

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 is available on Kindle-friendly devices at One hundred percent of royalties are being donated to sickle cell trait research and education.


by Irvin Muchnick


Last Friday we summarized some piecemeal internal emails the University of California-Berkeley finally surrendered to Concussion Inc. under the California Public Records Act.

Let’s focus now on one of them: the April 9, 2014, email from Cal’s associate athletic director, Ryan Cobb, to his boss, Sandy Barbour, on the progress of what is called “the ‘review’” of the football strength and conditioning program of head coach Sonny Dykes’ assistant Damon Harrington. (Barbour is now the AD at Penn State.)

On February 7, player Ted Agu had died while — as the first-day story put out by the university called it — jogging on campus. In fact, Agu collapsed multiple times during Harrington’s extreme conditioning drill and was not attended to despite knowledge that he was a carrier of sickle cell trait. Agu perished.

Cal lied to county detectives and the coroner about all this, and withheld more than 100 pages of campus investigative documents.

In March, a whistleblower player, Joey Mahalic, reported to the UC Berkeley police on Harrington’s sick excesses, which three months prior to Agu’s death had led to the criminal assault of one teammate, J.D. Hinnant, on another, Fabiano Hale.

In August, the Agu family would sue. Earlier this year there was a $4.75 million settlement, subsidized, in some unaccounted measure, by California’s taxpayers.

Harrington remains in his $150,000-plus-incentive-bonus post. Dykes, meanwhile, is spending his second straight offseason trying to hype himself into a better college head coaching job. (He’ll probably fail, but in his previous round of manipulation, on the heels of his only moderately successful season on the field out of four in Berkeley, Dykes had already euchred UC into a multimillion-dollar raise and contract extension.)

Here is the full text of the 4/9/14 Cobb-to-Barbour email. This is what a cover-up looks like in real time.


Ryan COBB <[email protected]>

Wed, April 9, 2014 at 7:06 PM

To: Athletic Departmental <[email protected]>



I spoke with Solly[*] today, and he said he was meeting with you on Wednesday and wanted more of an update on the ‘review’ because he is getting more questions from football. I told him what I knew, and suggested he talk to you, as I am not sure what we are saying to others, and who you want to include.

As an update, Chris Patti[**] and I spoke on Monday and ironed out that he was OK with me calling John Murray (the S&C expert) [***] directly.

Dr. Tanji [****] is set to go (for being on campus on 4/23 and 4/24), and Solly is going to think further about which football players to include. Between Dr. Tanji and Jeff Murray, we are thinking 3-8 total FB players. I have some rooms reserved already, and have mailed parking, etc…bottom line I will see to all the details.

Otherwise, I am working to secure the consultant paperwork with John, thought he has been tough to reach. I am hoping to talk to him tomorrow, and if not, Dr. Tanji will be reaching out to him. I have briefed both Caroline and Kelly that this business consultant agreement is happening, and they are ready to assist.

I know there have been delays, but they have not really been on our part. I understand the anxiety, and no one wants this completed more than you and me, but I also understand the questions/concerns from FB, and others. Dr. Tanji was out of town this week, and he can’t be on campus until the week of 4/23, so that just is how it goes.

I will continue to brief Mike and Damon with timing updates, and will assume you and Solly will be briefing Sonny, unless I hear otherwise.

Let me know if there is more of an update needed from me. I am in Michigan with M Gymnastics, just flew in tonight. They compete in the “regional” tomorrow, Thursday, at 1pm Eastern, but I will have my phone on me all day.




Ryan Cobb MS ATC

Associate Athletic Director

Performance, Health & Welfare


* Solly Fulp, then Cal’s deputy AD, now directs campus corporate sponsorship deals. See,,,,

** UC Berkeley chief campus counsel Christopher Patti.

*** San Francisco athletic trainer who would spend one day interviewing select players as part of his co-authorship of “the ‘review’.”

**** Dr. Jeffrey Tanji of the UC Davis Medical Center, buddy of then Cal football head team physician Dr. Casey Batten, and principal author of “the ‘review’.”




“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:

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick