by Irvin Muchnick
Solly Fulp, former deputy director and chief operating officer of the University of California-Berkeley athletic department, inexplicably forwarded a chain of administrators’ emails, discussing talking points in the 2014 Ted Agu football conditioning death, to his father Ian Fulp, a retired municipal parks and recreation director in Alaska.
Confirmation of the identity of “Dad,” in a batch of internal documents for which the university is claiming exemption from the California Public Records Act on grounds of attorney-client privilege, was a key element of the testimony of Solly Fulp at his deposition on October 3 in San Francisco. Concussion Inc. had subpoenaed Fulp to be deposed in anticipation of arguing to Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey S. Brand that UC’s attorney-client privilege claim for these documents is invalid and that the emails should be publicly released.
Our attorney Roy S. Gordet questioned Fulp at the deposition, and he was defended there by an attorney from the general counsel’s office of the UC Office of the President. Fulp is now a senior vice president at the marketing company Learfield IMG College.
Earlier we published, at http://muchnick.net/sollyfulptodad.pdf, the redacted version of the disputed April 2014 email chain, in which then athletic director Sandy Barbour and other Cal Athletics officials, along with campus police officers and Cal administrators and public relations specialists, discussed talking points in anticipation of the release of the Agu autopsy findings by the Alameda County medical examiner.
The redacted communications came at a critical juncture of what this reporter has called a cover-up in the Agu death. Immediately following the fatal incident on February 9, 2014, the Cal football team physician, Dr. Casey Batten, had called the county coroner, Dr. Thomas Beaver, to push the theory that Agu had perished from heart failure. The university did not inform Beaver of knowledge that Agu was a carrier of sickle cell trait, which made him susceptible to sudden death during extreme exertion.
The medical examiner would proceed to find that the cause of death was “hypertrophic cardiomyopathy” — heart failure — only to change the finding more than a year later to reflect that the fatal episode was, in fact, a collapse caused by a sickling attack. The change came after Beaver was deposed and shown new information in the Agu family’s wrongful death lawsuit against the UC Regents. The parties settled the suit for $4.75 million in 2016.
A year later Concussion Inc. sued the university under the California Public Records Act. Judge Brand has scheduled a December hearing on our motion to invalidate UC’s attorney-client privilege claim in the “Dad” emails.
There is a procedure for the deponent to sign off on the court reporter’s transcript before it is officially filed. After those steps are cleared, we’ll be publishing the full text.