Cal Bears assistant basketball coach Yan Hufnagel was fired from his post last month after a university investigation found that he had sexually harassed a reporter. The investigation report indicates that he tried to leverage her reliance on him as a source into a sexual relationship, and the claimant alleged that he fed her bad information after refusing his advances. She subsequently lost her job.
After he was fired, Hufnagel publicly denied any wrongdoing, and even after the report was published (which features many damning messages from him), he moved forward with an appeal. Hufnagel turned hundreds more text messages to school investigators and his lawyer told the San Francisco Chronicle, “The university has wronged an innocent person, and it must correct its error.”
That’s a pretty strong statement, not the kind of thing you’d expect from someone ready to fold. According to a report this morning from the Chronicle, Hufnagel has abruptly dropped his appeal. This is a strange turn, given that he hired a crisis management expert and made veiled threats of pursuing “other options.” From the report:
“The toxic environment at UC Berkeley has made it impossible for Mr. Hufnagel to rejoin the basketball team he loves, even if he is vindicated in full, as the facts would show,” Hufnagel’s lawyer, Mary McNamara, said. “He needs to look out for the student-athletes he coached, as well as his own future. Earlier this morning and after much consideration, he decided it was time to move on.”
Hufnagel’s incentive to fight the allegations is obvious. He’s 33, and while he’s a respected recruiter, this is quite the stain on his resume. If he wants to get another job in college basketball it’s in his interest to come out of this as cleanly as possible.
Meanwhile, Cal is still looking into how much head coach Cuonzo Martin did or didn’t know about the allegations, and the Chronicle reports that that should wrap up “soon.” Cal has already lost one recruit since Hufnagel was fired, and it’s unclear whether Martin will even return at all, no matter how the investigation shakes out.