BERKELEY, Calif. ― Attorneys representing the family of former California football player Ted Agu are planning to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the Regents of the University of California.
Agu died following an offseason training run Feb. 7. Los Angeles-based firm Panish, Shea & Boyle said in a news release Monday that Cal’s training staff took too long to respond to Agu’s symptoms of “extreme fatigue” during the run.
A news conference is scheduled for Tuesday at the Alameda County Courthouse in Oakland to announce the suit.
“During the course of the conditioning drill, Agu experienced dizziness, shortness of breath, loss of balance, and other signs of extreme fatigue that were clearly symptomatic of the sickling process,” the law firm said in its release. “Despite the symptoms which clearly could and should have been observed, UCB coaches and trainers failed to immediately come to Agu’s assistance.
“It was only after Agu struggled and encountered obvious difficulties for a significant period of time that intervention occurred and he was placed on a cart and taken back towards the stadium where he collapsed for the last time.”
The release mentioned sickling, which would indicate Agu had sickle cell trait. Asked to clarify Agu’s medical condition, family attorney Robert Glassman said more details of the case would be announced at Tuesday’s news conference.
Cal’s athletic department said in a statement that it could not comment on the pending litigation because officials haven’t seen the lawsuit.
“The members of our football family and our entire campus community remain deeply saddened with the loss of Ted Agu,” the statement read. “We will continue to honor Ted in all we do. He will forever be a beloved member of our Golden Bear family. We have heard reports that a lawsuit may be filed this week against the University. Because we have not seen the lawsuit, we cannot speak to the specifics of this pending action and respectfully decline comment at this time.”
Whether Agu had any pre-existing medical conditions diagnosed by the university is unknown. The Alameda County Coroner’s office said in April that Agu died of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is an excessive thickening of the heart muscle.
Team physician Dr. Casey Batten said in February that the medical staff saw Agu had difficulty completing the workout and he was transferred by cart about 150 yards to the football stadium.
“He was on the back of the cart, he was talking, he was hydrating, he did not exhibit any labored breathing or other signs until he got to the north tunnel,” Batten said.
Agu collapsed when he got to the medical facility at the Simpson Center at the stadium around 7 a.m., emergency medical personnel were alerted and Agu was given CPR. He was taken to Alta Bates Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Batten said Agu never had any previous problems with workouts or practice at Cal.
Agu, a 21-year-old defensive end from Bakersfield, was going to be a fifth-year senior this season. He arrived on campus as a walk-on before earning a scholarship last year. He played seven games last season, recording six tackles.
Cal was beginning preseason practices Monday.