UC Berkeley Says It Is Looking For the Public Records That Define the Scope of the Upcoming Review 2.0 of the Cal Football Strength and Conditioning Program

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by Irvin Muchnick


The University of California-Berkeley told Concussion Inc. on Thursday night that it is has begun its due-diligence search for the charge letter and consulting agreements related to the second review of the football strength and conditioning program that was ordered up last summer by Nicholas Dirks, the lame-duck chancellor, after a public uproar over the first review.

Cal said ultimate release of these documents could take until mid-March or even longer.

In the spring of 2014, two Cal athletics cronies — Dr. Jeffrey Tanji, a sports medicine specialist at UC Davis, and John Murray, a San Francisco athletic trainer — investigated for one day before producing a three-page report that said the strength and conditioning program of football coach Sonny Dykes’ assistant Damon Harrington was just fine.

Of course, Dykes was fired this week for unrelated reasons (his team didn’t win enough games in his four years, and ticket sales are lagging while a football stadium retrofit saddles California’s taxpayers with $18 million a year in debt service).

Harrington’s future is unknown, but new head coaches generally pick their own people for such roles. Harrington has a comparatively modest compensation package: whereas UC is on the hook for a $5.3 million buyout of Dykes’ only recently sweetened and extended long-term deal, Harrington makes $150,000 (plus an incentive bowl bonus) and is up for annual renewal.

The 2014 review of the strength and conditioning program stemmed from whistleblower complaints, including to campus police, by a former backup quarterback, Joey Mahalic, who cited the extreme and profanity-laced coaching methods of Harrington following both a player-on-player criminal beating and, three months later, the death of Ted Agu during an offseason conditioning-punishment drill. When the local media, led by the San Francisco Chronicle, last summer belatedly reported faculty concerns that the Tanji-Murray review was fatally flawed by the co-authors’ conflicts of interest, Chancellor Dirks said the university would undertake another review.

The bulk of that work was supposed to happen this month, but campus sources say it is possible that the dismissal of Dykes will bring about a delay. A broader task force examining the structure of the whole athletic program, in the context of the department’s $22 million annual deficit, already has been pushed back at least once.

For the first review, Cal did not initially release the administration’s charge letter and scope-of-work documents for Tanji and Murray, but eventually did so after this reporter pointed out, to UC system president Janet Napolitano and other officials, that the university’s production under the California Public Records Act was defective.

I directly asked Dr. Elizabeth Joy, who was hired to co-direct the new study, to disclose her charge letter and consulting contract. She declined.


“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: https://concussioninc.net/?p=10877

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick