University of California-Berkeley Tries to Restart From Scratch on Production of Documents Related to Ted Agu Death Under Football Coaches Sonny Dykes and Damon Harrington

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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


Nearly a full year into the process, the University of California-Berkeley is trying to start all over again with Concussion Inc.’s requests for production, under the state Public Records Act (PRA), of internal documents on the handling of the November 2013 player-on-player beating and the February 2014 extreme conditioning death of Ted Agu on the watch of the recently fired head football coach Sonny Dykes and his assistant Damon Harrington.

This manipulation of public records requests, found at many state agencies, is typical of the kinds of problems that have led to a new campaign for PRA reform by the California Newspaper Publishers Association. We wrote about this last October. CNPA’s own article about its lobbying efforts is at

On January 19, Cal’s PRA coordinator, Liane Ko, emailed Concussion Inc. that “a search for responsive documents is currently underway” and “The current timeframe for fulfillment of most requests is 8 weeks, although this may vary due to the nature and complexity of the request.”

This response would have been reasonable for a new request, but the PRA office was not referring to a new request. It was referring, rather, to our December 22 demand that the university cure defects in the earlier partial fulfillment of my request, dating back to last April, for administrators’ emails and other files on the handling of strength and conditioning coach Harrington’s roles in the J.D. Hinnant criminal assault of Fabiano and in the Agu death. (The UC regents last year settled a civil lawsuit by the Agu family for $4.75 million.)

These defects, I told the Berkeley office, included failure to produce “records of all officials of UC Berkeley” pertaining to these matters. I did so after the university released only a smattering of emails, mostly from an associate athletic director, Ryan Cobb. I pointed out that “officials of UC Berkeley” included — “without limitation,” as the lawyers say — “Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, Vice Chancellor John Wilton, Athletic Director Sandy Barbour, Deputy Athletic Director Solly Fulp, Associate Athletic Director Ryan Cobb, and head football team physician Dr. Casey Batten.”

In my reply to PRA coordinator Ko, which was also sent to UC system president Janet Napolitano, UC chief counsel Charles Robinson, and other responsible administrators on both the Berkeley campus and at Oakland UC system headquarters, and also on January 19, I recorded my dispute of any suggestion that the December 22 demand for cure of a previously executed request response was a “request de novo.” I further pointed out that even by the university’s interpretation, Ko’s January 19 email would not be a timely response under § 6253(c) of the PRA statute, which gives the public agency 10 days for a preliminary response. Finally, I noted, § 6253(d) prohibits the manipulation of response periods to delay access to records.

No one at the University of California has yet gotten back to me. Concussion Inc. will continue to update.


“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