by Irvin Muchnick
Yesterday Concussion Inc. reported that Solly Fulp has been subpoenaed in my California Public Records Act case against the University of California Regents for more internal documents relating to the cover-up in the 2014 offseason football conditioning drill death of Ted Agu. With manipulations in which Fulp played a part, UC Berkeley was able to distract the public for a critical year-plus from the central fact that the university, its doctors, and its coaches and trainers knew that Agu carried the sickle cell trait. Agu died from an exertional collapse associated with sickle cell trait, not from a garden-variety coronary.
Fulp will be deposed in the near future about his curious forwarding to “Dad” of a string of Cal administrators’, athletic department officials’, and campus police officers’ emails in which they discuss how to spin the April 2014 release of the Alameda County medical examiner’s autopsy findings in the February Agu death.
Fulp, whose revolving door in the college sports industry has taken him to senior vice presidency of the marketing company Learfield IMG College (where we can surmise he probably earns more than the $300,000-plus he got annually at Berkeley), is a key figure in the Agu cover-up. But he’s not the only one. Later in this article we’ll add further detail to yesterday’s story on Fulp. First, let’s run down the coverage here of some of his cover-up teammates.
Damon Harrington was the strength and conditioning coach under then head football coach Sonny Dykes. Harrington is the person who drove Agu to death in a bizarre hill climb and rope pull drill in early-morning winter darkness. Three months before the death incident, in a clear preliminary signal that his program was out of control, Harrington had incited a freshman non-travel squad player, J.D. Hinnant, into criminally beating into unconsciousness and the Alta Bates Medical Center emergency room another hapless freshman non-travel squad player, Fabiano Hale, after Hale missed a conditioning session — prompting Harrington to expose to additional punishment drills the teammates who were in attendance.
Where is he now? Damon Harrington is the assistant football coach for strength and conditioning at Grambling State.
Marc DeCoulode was a lieutenant in the UC Berkeley Police Department. After the Hinnant-Hale altercation, DeCoulode told the media that head coach Dykes knew nothing about it. Later, after the Agu death moved a distraught whistleblower player, Joey Mahalic, to come forward to talk about the abuses of Harrington’s conditioning program, DeCoulode underling, Detective Harry Bennigson, took Mahalic’s statement and interviewed him.
DeCoulode also directed Bennigson’s second “do-over” interrogation of Harrington on February 11, 2014, five days after Agu’s death, in which the conditioning coach was coached on how to give a better answer as to the deceased player’s medical condition.
“[I]f you’re not comfortable answering [whether Agu carried sickle cell trait] … you can say that you were aware that he had medical conditions but you don’t wanna say specifically what they were.”
“[W]hat we don’t wanna do is we don’t wanna have it appear that you’re either not telling the truth or that you’re being deceptive.”
Where is he now? Marc DeCoulode is still a lieutenant in the UC Berkeley Police Department.
Dr. Casey Batten was the Cal football head team physician. When Agu died, university and athletic department flacks mobilized to develop public talking points. At that day’s press conference, Batten recited the talking points, virtually verbatim. To the question of whether Agu carried sickle cell trait, Batten and others said they couldn’t answer such privacy-invading questions about a dead person.
Meanwhile, Batten phoned Dr. Thomas Beaver, the Alameda County coroner, who was about to conduct the autopsy. It looks like classic “HCM” (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) — generic heart failure — Batten told Beaver. Batten didn’t mention sickle cell trait. Two months later Beaver released his findings: the cause of death was HCM.
The next year the coroner testified in the wrongful death lawsuit by Agu’s parents against UC. Beaver recounted his conversation with Batten, and admitted that the medical examiner’s office had been under-informed and had erred by not considering that the death was a sickling episode. In an extraordinary move, Beaver had the official autopsy findings revised accordingly.
The university soon thereafter came to a $4.75 million settlement with the Agu family.
Where is he now? Casey Batten is a team physician for the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League.
Back to Solly Fulp.
Whistleblower Mahalic first reported his concerns to the faculty football team adviser, who directed him to Fulp. Fulp then directed Mahalic to John Wilton, then Cal’s vice chancellor for finance and administration. Wilton then sent Mahalic to the campus police.
Complete headline links to our Ted Agu series: https://concussioninc.net/?p=10877