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Enough is Enough: Petition to Suspend Contract Renewal of Football Coach, Damon Harrington

Dear faculty colleagues,

The BFA has written the letter below calling on Chancellor Dirks to suspend the renewal of Coach Harrington’s contract, pending further investigation by a truly independent inquiry. One player died, another was knocked out unconscious. This is not how a university should treat its students. The San Francisco Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury News have made detailed reports on these incidents.



In the article that appears in the San Francisco Chronicle, Brian Barsky and Michael O’Hare are reported as critics of the university administration as are Mike Smith (former legal counsel for university) and John Cummins (chief of staff under four Berkeley Chancellors). The Chancellor is quoted as being satisfied that the football coaching staff is now in compliance with regulations and best practices, but says nothing about the behavior of Harrington, who has already cost the university $4.75 million in a civil suit filed by the parents of Ted Agu. Like the sexual harassment cases, this is another instance of exonerating reckless and abusive behavior of those whom the university considers important to its mission, in this case making money from football.


Dear Chancellor Dirks:

The Berkeley Faculty Association requests the suspension of the renewal of the contract of football coach, Damon Harrington, pending further independent investigation. Harrington has allegedly been involved in two incidents: first, the over-exertion of football player, Ted Agu, leading to his death (for which the university had to pay $4.75 million in a civil suit in which the university admitted negligence); and second, provocation of team players to physically punish another player, leading to Fabiano Hale being knocked out unconscious. According to an extensive and detailed report in the San Francisco Chronicle (June 29), the investigation commissioned by the university exonerated Harrington without serious investigation of these incidents of abusive training.  If there is any truth to the allegations in the San Francisco Chronicle, condoning such behavior of its employees is out of keeping with any university that is accountable to its students and concerned to protect their safety and welfare. We, therefore, call for further independent investigation before renewing Harrington’s contract.

Yours Sincerely, Michael Burawoy and Celeste Langan for the Berkeley Faculty Association


Thanks very much to all those who signed the petition and made comments.




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