Following a San Francisco Chronicle report and a subsequent request from the UC Berkeley Faculty Association to re-investigate the Cal football strength and conditioning program following Ted Agu‘s 2014 death and Fabiano Hale‘s 2013 hospitalization, Cal chancellor Nicholas Dirks on Friday ordered a new investigation into the Bears’ football strength program.
The Cal football program issued the following response to CFT on Saturday:
The recent series of articles in the San Francisco Chronicle on our football strength and conditioning program bring up a couple of issues from the past – important matters that nobody here has ever minimized or dismissed – but matters that have been properly investigated and adjudicated.
The investigation of football’s strength and conditioning program was commissioned by (then) Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance, John Wilton and (former) Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Sandy Barbour, and conducted by Dr. Jeffrey Tanji.
Dr. Tanji is a professional with the highest ethical standards and there is zero evidence to the contrary. The central finding of the Tanji report is absolutely clear: that the strength and conditioning program under Harrington’s direction was in no significant respect different from football conditioning programs all over the country. In terms of the safety of the program, what stood out about it was its utter normalcy — a point not mentioned in the Chronicle piece, and also not disputed by it.
Our concern has always been, is, and will continue to be doing what is in the best interest of our student-athletes. The progress our football program has made over the past three years academically and athletically is well documented. The work our kids are doing in the community continues to shine. We are on an upward trajectory — the right trajectory — and we will continue to move in that direction. And, we will no longer allow negative stories that are based on and influenced by the opinion and conjecture of a couple of long-standing critics of intercollegiate athletics at Cal to derail the progress we have made and the positive path forward we are on.
Head strength coach Damon Harrington was cleared of any liability by UC police and the university’s investigation, though Cal did admit negligence in a $4.75 million settlement with the Agu family.
Three players told the Chronicle Harrington implied approval for players to attack Hale for missing a workout that led to a locker room incident where the player was left concussed and unconscious, though many of the Bears’ current roster has expressed unequivocal support for their strength coach.
“Coach Damon’s the best strength coach I’ve ever been around,” defensive tackle James Looney told BearInsider last month. “Whether it’s running or lifting, he stresses taking care of the body, not breaking your body down during the workourt (sic). He stresses how important your diet is to your health, too. When I was a freshman at Wake Forest, I just ate whatever. Eating right and the way we work out is a major factor why I’m coming into this season in much better shape.”
Added receiver Chad Hansen: “They really know what they’re doing. They preach the mental aspect of the game and mental toughness because when you’re in a game, you’re going to rely on what you learned in the off-season. That’s Coach Harrington’s job. The team’s so much more mentally-tough now. The strength you have on the field helps prevent injuries, too. If you’re stronger, faster and more durable, it’s going to show up as a team. You’ll play faster and tougher as a team all season.”
Harrington’s contract was set to expire on Friday, but a Cal spokesman told CFT Saturday he has inked a contract extension.