Remember the Cal Football Strength and Conditioning Program Review 2.0? The University Is Betting That the Public Won’t

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by Irvin Muchnick


Today is the first anniversary of the announcement by the then-University of California at Berkeley chancellor, Nicholas B. Dirks, that he was ordering a second review of the football team’s strength and conditioning program. This followed faculty rumbling about the blatant inadequacies and conflicts of interest in the first such review (which, internal documents would reveal, the coordinating athletic department associate director called “the ‘review’”).

These reviews were spurred by gaping holes in Cal’s account of the 2014 death of football player Ted Agu, which would lead to a $4.75 million civil lawsuit settlement, and by Concussion Inc.’s reporting that the driver anecdote of the abuses in the football strength and conditioning program was a “code red” attack by a player on a teammate, incited by former football coach Sonny Dykes’ assistant Damon Harrington, three months prior to Agu’s fatal collapse during a “voluntary” offseason punishment drill.

I called today the first anniversary of the Dirks announcement, but an asterisk is required: June 30 was the day Dirks’ statement was released to me. The university had been fielding pointed inquiries from me for months concerning all things Damon Harrington, Ted Agu, and the earlier J.D. Hinnant cold-cocking of Fabiano Hale. In fact, the university had put the announcement into general media release a day earlier, on the 29th, but somehow neglected to include me in the distribution until I complained.

As Concussion Inc. readers know, earlier this year I filed a California Public Records Act lawsuit against the UC Regents for what I contend are suppressed records in response to my requests to the Berkeley compliance office for copies of internal documents relating to these matters. The two sides agreed to postpone the university’s response in Alameda County Superior Court while settlement discussions are pursued.

This week your correspondent set out to find exactly what Strength and Conditioning Review 2.0 hath wrought, 365 days after Dirks ordered the do-over.

The answer: nothing.

On Wednesday I emailed the co-director of the new study, Dr. Elizabeth Joy of Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City. She is also immediate past president of the American College of Sports Medicine.

When Joy didn’t respond, I tried Cal athletics spokesman Herb Benenson yesterday. Benenson emailed back, “Work is ongoing [on the review]. I don’t have more at this point.”

Twenty-six minutes later, I heard back from Joy: “Still working with Cal on this project. We are closing in on the end. We have interviews set up in mid July, and hope to have the summary of our findings and recommendations completed by late summer early fall.”

To the best of my knowledge, the San Francisco Chronicle has done no follow-up on its June 29, 2016, story about the commissioning of Review 2.0.

This week, however, the Chronicle did run a dazzling piece about Cal’s dazzling new football uniform deal with the Under Armour apparel company.

University sources suspect that Solly Fulp, in his newly created position of director of university partnerships, collects commissions on such deals, on top of his $230,000 annual salary. Fulp, who as deputy director of athletics was a key figure in the cover-ups of the Hinnant assault and of the Agu death on strength and conditioning coach Harrington’s watch, was given this job in the central administration after being passed over for the athletic director position, which went to Mike Williams.




My op-ed article for the Daily Californian on my Public Records Act lawsuit:

“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:

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.

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick