The University of California will pay $4.75 million to settle a lawsuit brought against it by the family of Cal football player Ted Agu after he died when the team took part in a training session.
The settlement — which was reached April 8 — comes three months after the university admitted that its negligence was a significant factor in Agu’s death. First reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, the settlement provides monetary compensation to Agu’s family and requires various safety reforms for Cal Athletics, including a stipulation that coaches will not be able to use “high-risk physical activity” as a punishment.
“The University is glad to have reached a resolution with the Agu family, as it has been a difficult process for everyone involved,” said campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof in a statement. “Now UC Berkeley can continue to focus its energies on enhancing the safety and well-being of student-athletes.”
Agu died in February 2014, during a conditioning workout where the team was required to pull a rope up and down a hill near Memorial Stadium. While going up the hill, Agu, who had sickle cell trait, allegedly collapsed and was then assisted downhill.
The medical examiner initially identified his collapse as a heart condition problem, but was reclassified in October after evidence was re-examined. The cause of death was determined as relating to his sickle cell trait, which can lead to collapses being incorrectly associated as a heart condition problem.
“This young student athlete lost his life because of the reckless and negligent behavior of UCB football trainers and coaches in orchestrating, conducting and subjecting Agu to a lethal conditioning drill for a player with known sickle cell trait,” alleged the initial lawsuit that the Agu family filed.
Since Agu’s death, the campus has strengthened its safety protocols for student-athletes — including those with sickle cell trait — by improving training for coaches and conditioning staff, establishing student-athlete medical screening protocols and requiring additional oversight of workout plans, among other reforms.
“On behalf of the family, we are pleased that Cal has accepted responsibility, monetarily acknowledged the enormity of the loss suffered, and taken critically important reforms aimed at preventing these tragedies from occurring to others,” said Steve Yerrid, an attorney for the Agu family, in a statement.
The university has agreed to maintain a memorial of Ted Agu in the football locker room, according to a statement from Mogulof.
“If Ted Agu’s family had not gotten this, it would’ve been this unfortunate story of a student athlete dying of some heart problem,” Yerrid said in a statement. “That would have been the end of the story.”
Contact Suhauna Hussain and Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks at [email protected].