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Cal football strength program to be investigated by UC Berkeley

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The San Francisco Chronicle’s story on Cal strength and conditioning coach Damon Harrington has led to another investigation of the program. At the behest of UC faculty, UC Chancellor Nicholas Dirks announced on Friday there will be an investigation commissioned into the state of Cal football’s strength and conditioning program.

More from Nanette Asimov:

UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks ordered a new investigation Friday into Cal football’s strength and conditioning program in light of a Chronicle report showing that football staff had personal ties to previous investigators and helped select athletes to be interviewed.

Dirks announced his decision Friday in response to a request from the Berkeley Faculty Association a day earlier that he not renew the $150,000 annual contract of Cal’s popular football strength and conditioning coach Damon Harrington until a new investigation could resolve whether the coach’s actions contributed to the death of one player in 2014 and the hospitalization of another in 2013.

The Berkeley Faculty Association indicated that they would prefer if Cal football’s strength and conditioning coach Damon Harrington not be renewed. Several academics seemed to have differing agendas here.

“While I am gratified that the chancellor is taking the matter seriously, I am disappointed that the new investigation he proposes is confined to (assessing the current program) and not the culpability of coach Harrington,” said sociology Professor Michael Burawoy, co-chair of the Faculty Association who signed the letter to Dirks. “It suggests that the university is in thrall to its athletics department, or more precisely, the revenue it is supposed to bring.”

The Chronicle indicated in a follow-up that Harrington’s contract is supposed to expire today. Cal did confirm that Harrington continues to be employed by the program and the Chancellor has made it clear the investigation will be focused on the overall program rather than any particular coach.

Cal Athletics spokesperson Wesley Mallette has indicated that Harrington also denies the accusations that he incited the football team to attack Fabiano Hale, as the original Chronicle piece alleged. Cal players past and present have also widely and publicly defended Harrington from the various allegations of the Chronicle.