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Cal Admits Negligence Led to Football Player’s Death

The University of California Berkeley admitted negligence played a role in the 2014 death of a football player who died after a team conditioning drill.

The admission came last week after testimony in a wrongful death lawsuit brought against the university by the parents of Ted Agu, who died on Feb. 7, 2014, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Agu’s parents questioned the actions of Cal football staffers after Agu collapsed during a conditioning drill in which he and his teammates held a rope together and had to sprint up and down a hill outside Cal’s Memorial Stadium. According to depositions shared with the Chronicle, Agu’s teammates say he struggled for several minutes and fell multiple times before he collapsed. Cal staffers say they came to Agu’s aid as soon as they noticed him struggling and forced him from completing the workout.

There also is a question of how much of Agu’s medical information was provided by Cal after his death. From the Chronicle:

The testimony, given in confidential depositions, also detailed allegations that campus officials did not provide the Alameda County coroner’s office with all police and medical records after Agu died, including some that indicated he had sickle cell trait — a blood abnormality that experts believe can lead to death under extreme exertion.The medical examiner’s office initially attributed Agu’s death to a heart condition that would not have presented the same symptoms as a crisis related to sickle cell trait.

The admission of negligence does not necessarily mean there will be a settlement in the case, the newspaper reported.

“Saying that (the university’s) wrongdoing solely caused this young man’s death is certainly not enough,” Steve Yerrid, one of the attorneys representing the Agus, told the newspaper. “There needs to be reform and meaningful change.”

UC Berkeley officials said that by declining to contest liability, they could “focus the legal proceedings on appropriate compensation for the family,” the Chronicle reported.

Agu, a walk-on defensive lineman who aspired to go to medical school, was 21.

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