An independent investigation of the Cal football program regarding the 2014 death of Cal defensive lineman Ted Agu — initiated by former UC Berkeley chancellor Nicholas Dirks in July 2016 — was halted last year, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
A 43-page document detailing 45 suggested changes to the football program to help ensure the health and safety of players in the future was released this March. The document, however, did not discuss the current state of the football program, as per Dirks’ directions for the investigation.
While about 24 of these recommendations are covered by existing policies and 10 will be adopted outright, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, members of the Berkeley Faculty Association remain concerned about the suspension of the original investigation.
In February 2014, Agu, who had the sickle cell trait, died at the age of 21 after collapsing during a strenuous workout headed by then-strength and conditioning coach Damon Harrington. UC Berkeley admitted negligence and settled with Agu’s family in 2016.
The first investigation into Agu’s death — as well as the beating of former running back Fabiano Hale by a teammate in 2013 — was concluded in June 2014, clearing all football staff of blame. This decision was made despite reports from players that Harrington used drills as punitive measures and encouraged the team to self-discipline each other for infractions such as missing practice, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
An article released by the San Francisco Chronicle in 2016, however, reported that the investigators used in this case had been connected to the Cal football program, leading to biased decision-making and invalid conclusions.
On July 1, 2016, Dirks ordered a new investigation and assigned the task to two independent entities. He brought it to an unfinished conclusion in March 2017 with a brief note expressing his desire to focus on looking to the future.
Dirks said his primary reason for the drop was that relevant employees left the program soon after the investigation started in the statement provided to the San Francisco Chronicle. Harrington and Sonny Dykes — the Cal football head coach at the time of Agu’s death — were fired in January 2017.
Both men have since maintained positions in college football programs, despite the alleged negligence. Harrington is currently at Grambling State University serving as the head strength coach, and Dykes is the head football coach at Southern Methodist University.
Alison White is an assistant sports editor. Contact her at