Damon Harrington, the head strength and conditioning coach at the University of California Berkeley, has been let go from the Cal football organization after the school hired Justin Wilcox as its head coach. Harrington had created and oversaw the workout that led to the collapse and tragic death of 21-year-old Ted Agu, a defensive lineman with sickle cell trait who died during a conditioning drill in February 2014. The drill involved players sprinting up and down a hill as they held a thick rope together, something the team had not done before.
Attorneys Brian Panish and Robert Glassman of Panish Shea & Boyle, Steve Yerrid of the Yerrid Law Firm and Jeffery D. Murphy represented the Agu family in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against The Regents of the University of California in 2014. The lawsuit specifically alleged Harrington and then-Cal-football-trainer Robert Jackson were “unfit for the specific tasks to be performed during the course of their employment, namely to organize and execute a reasonably safe conditioning drill.” In April 2016, nearly three months after the university admitted that its negligence was a significant factor in Agu’s death, attorneys obtained a $4.75 million settlement for his family.
As part of the settlement, UC Berkeley agreed to continue implementing changes to protect its student-athletes including strengthening its safety protocols by enhancing training for coaches and conditioning staff, among other measures.
Many university faculty members, as well as Cal football program critics, demanded Harrington be let go following Agu’s death but the university renewed his contract last summer. The strengthening and conditioning coach continued to work alongside Cal Bears head coach Sonny Dykes, who had recruited him and who was fired earlier this month. All other assistants were also let go.
Harrington has been replaced with Torre Becton, who previously coached at USC and worked with Wilcox during the 2012 and 2013 seasons at Washington.
For more details, read the San Francisco Chronicle story here