Practice is supposed to make perfect, but in the case of 21-year-old Ted Agu, practice proved deadly. The University of California, Berkeley football player died after a drill at an off-season conditioning workout outside Cal’s Memorial Stadium in February 2014.
While tough coaching is often seen as a beneficial practice that can improve player performance on the field and build character off the field, coaches sometimes cross the line. Some exercises and drills are not intended to make the students into better players, but rather to physically punish them through pain and exhaustion. This may have been what caused Agu’s death — he and others were forced to run up and down a steep hill repeatedly while holding a rope together. The player showed visible signs of distress during the drill, collapsing multiple times but continuing anyway.
Agu carried sickle cell trait, a blood condition that can become dangerous when paired with extreme physical activity. His family claims that coaches knew about his condition and therefore he should never have been involved in these drills. The school admitted their fault in Agu’s death three months before settling with Agu’s family.
As a result of this incident and the resulting $4.75 million wrongful death settlement reached last month, the school has implemented changes to its program to prevent future problems. Going forward, the type of drill that led to Agu’s death will no longer be used as punishment at the school. Workout plans will be reviewed and officials will be educated on sickle cell trait.
Negligence by school sporting officials leads to serious injury and death on a regular basis. From exhaustion to traumatic brain injury, students often suffer preventable injuries due to the actions or inattention of coaches or other staff. If your child or family member has been injured or killed as a result of negligence, contact the San Diego personal injury attorneys at Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire to learn your legal options.