BERKELEY -- The family of Ted Agu intends to file a wrongful-death suit against the Regents of the University of California in connection with the former Cal football player's death Feb. 7 after an offseason training run, lawyers announced Monday.

The family and its attorneys scheduled a news conference for Tuesday morning in Oakland to announce their legal plans.

According to a news release from the Los Angeles-based law firm Panish, Shea and Boyle, lawyers will argue that Agu demonstrated symptoms during the morning team run that went unnoticed by Cal's training staff.

One media report after Agu's death said the 21-year-old previously had tested positive for the sickle cell trait.

"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 release said. "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."

Cal athletics released a statement saying it could not comment because it had not seen the lawsuit.


Advertisement

"The members of our football family and our entire campus community remain deeply saddened with the loss of Ted Agu. We will continue to honor Ted in all we do. He will forever be a beloved member of our Golden Bear family," the statement said.

"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."

The Alameda County coroner's office announced in late April that Agu died as a result of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is an excessive thickening of the heart muscle, and is a common cause of death in young athletes.

The condition was responsible for the death of basketball players Hank Gathers and Reggie Lewis.

According to the Hypertrophy Cardiomyopathy Association website, the muscle thickening of the heart occurs without an obvious cause but prevents proper blood flow.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common of all genetic heart conditions, according to the HCMA, affecting 1 in 500 people in the general population. Based on that, the association estimates as many as 600,000 people in the United States have HCM.

The website says there is no gender, age or ethnic factor specific to the condition, and no specific symptom or complaint unique to HCM.

"The reason for the onset of symptoms is often not clear," according to the HCMA website.

Agu, originally a walk-on from Bakersfield, was a pre-med student at Cal. A backup defensive end, he would have been a senior this football season.