Muchnick Op-Ed in Daily Cal Probes the Long Tail of the Ted Agu Football Death Cover-Up

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On March 20, 2014 — six weeks after Cal football player Ted Agu dropped dead on a campus hillside in the early morning — Berkeley campus police Chief Margo Bennett emailed John Wilton, then the vice chancellor for administration and finance, with the warning not to share with others “the documents I gave you yesterday. … The case is not available for a PRA request and I’d like to keep it that way.”

Bennett added, “I am fairly confident that Sandy has not had access to this level of detail.”

The “case,” for all intents and purposes, could be seen as a negligent homicide. Agu had perished during a bizarre punishment drill directed by then-head football coach Sonny Dykes’ strength and conditioning assistant Damon Harrington. Ultimately, settlement of a wrongful death lawsuit by Agu’s family would cost $4.75 million in taxpayer- and tuition-subsidized funds.

“Sandy” in Bennett’s email is Sandy Barbour, who, like many in this sorry episode’s cast of characters, subsequently “fell upward” in the football industry: At the time the athletic director at Cal, she is now athletic director at Penn State University.

As for “PRA” — that stands for Public Records Act. The document from which I’m quoting is one of what I suspect is the unnaturally sparse number thus far released in the course of my California Public Records Act, or CPRA, lawsuit, filed a year ago with the Alameda County Superior Court, to daylight what top administrators were contemporaneously saying and doing regarding how to handle the Agu scandal.

CONTINUED AT “Years later, questions remain regarding football player Ted Agu’s death,”



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-compatible devices at All royalties are being donated to sickle cell trait research and education.

2017 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:

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick