BERKELEY -- Following an emotional team meeting after the sudden death of defensive end Ted Agu, California head coach Sonny Dykes, athletic director Sandy Barbour and team physician Casey Batten addressed the passing of the 21-year old student-athlete in a gathering at Haas Pavilion, ironing out some of the details of this morning’s events.
“Needless to say, the Cal family is heartbroken,” said Barbour, with tears in her eyes. “There is no greater tragedy than for us to lose one of our incredibly bright and passionate young people, far too soon. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ted’s family and at this time, certainly, ask that you respect their opportunity to grieve.
“My focus and our focus at this time is on the young people in our intercollegiate athletic program. They and we are devastated. We’ve lost an incredible young man. Our student athletes have lost a brother, who they stood, shoulder-to-shoulder with, in the classroom, on the athletic field and in this community. We are all hurting. Our attention, all of us at this table, all of us in this department, is on the young people in our program and their opportunity to grieve in the coming days, weeks and months. It will be incredibly difficult. There are lots of details that we do not have at this time, but there are some brief set of facts that we want to make available.”
Campus spokesman Dan Mogulof said that “I don’t think anyone who was in that team meeting this morning will ever forget that scene,” and Dykes came into the room visibly shaken.
Batten – who had known Agu since he was a freshman – addressed the particulars of the incident.
“I’m deeply saddened to be in front of you all today,” Batten said, before detailing the events of Friday morning. “He’s a wonderful man, and this is a tremendous loss to this university and to his family.”
As Batten described ,Agu was on a supervised training run (what was described as a "whole-team, standard training activity," by Dykes) with the rest of team, along with multiple members of the Cal football medical staff. Towards the end of the workout, the medical staff noticed that Agu – who had completed similar runs “dozens of times,” was having some difficulty completing the workout. As a precaution, he was immediately stopped and attended to.
Agu was hydrating, responsive, talking with the medical staff and alert. As a precaution, the medical staff placed Agu on a cart and shuttled him back to the Simpson Center for Student-Athlete High Performance – a distance of about 150 yards from outside the north end of California Memorial Stadium. During the ride, Agu was alert, upright, communicative and hydrating, but, as the cart approached the North Tunnel of the stadium, Agu began having difficulty.
When he arrived at the Simpson Center for observation and treatment, he became nonresponsive and collapsed at approximately 7 a.m. Emergency medical services were immediately alerted and high-quality CPR was started. An external defibrillator was attached to Agu by the training staff as EMS was called, to monitor his heart.
CPR continued until Agu was transferred to the Berkeley Fire Department and paramedics, and transported to Alta Bates Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Dykes expressed his sadness that the team lost one of its most beloved members.
“This is one of those tragedies that, as we talked about with our football team today, nobody understands or comprehends,” Dykes said. “Ted was a very special young man. As a coach, I have the opportunity to be around a lot of special kids, day in and day out, but he was a special young man. He had a passion and an energy for life that was contagious. He’ll be deeply missed. Our players loved him dearly, and he was a big part of our family. We have to rely on each other in order to get through this period the best that we can. This is something that is very hard on all of us. He’s going to be missed.”
Agu – a Public Health major – was “the ultimate team guy,” said Dykes, a walk-on who earned a scholarship and the respect of his teammates and coaches.
“He was a walk-on football player who came here because he loved the game,” Dykes continued. “He played a lot for us last season, played some on the scout team. When he was on the scout team, he attacked that with the same vigor that he did preparing to play in games. He’s just somebody that had a passion for life and loved to learn, loved to laugh, had a great sense of humor. He’s just a special young man.”
Agu’s case will be turned over to the coroner, who will have a concrete cause of death in 6-8 weeks. Batten said that Agu had never struggled with a run like he ran on Friday, and that there was no prior history of any health conditions or underlying factors that would have predicted what happened Friday morning.
"He's what's good about college athletics," Dykes said. "He's what's good about college football, in particular. He was well-loved by his teammates. He's exactly what you want in a student-athlete."
Cal is in the process of scheduling team activities, so that the coaching staff can be sure to be around the players and provide adequate support for them.
"It's going to be a difficult process for them, and as an organization, we're going to have to provide a lot of leadership and opportunities for these young men to grieve, because it's going to be a lengthy process," Dykes said.
Barbour added that student-athlete leadership is planning a memorial event on Friday evening, but nothing was scheduled as of early this afternoon.
Former Cal head coach Jeff Tedford tweeted for the first time since November of 2012, saying: "Sadness doesn't begin 2 describe the feeling with the loss of Ted!A true example of passion&drive-he was loved,respected&admired!Luv u Ted!!"