Feds Investigate Terminated OU Professor's Research Practices

Thursday, November 10th 2011, 12:26 am
By: News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Federal investigators were in Oklahoma City this week looking into disturbing allegations against an OU professor.

We've also learned a legal agreement was reached between him and the University.

The confidential settlement agreement between the University of Oklahoma and Professor Chad Kerksick states the University gave Kerksick a one-time payment of $75,000. The agreement also states that Kerksick must go on an unpaid leave of absence.

10/31/2011 Related Story: OU Professor Accused Of Questionable Medical Practices On Students

It documents a number of circumstances giving rise to Dr. Kerksick's research projects being terminated and to his privileges being suspended by the university's Institutional Review Board.

It goes on to show the University giving notice to Dr. Kerksick of the non-renewal of his tenure track position.

The agreement states that effective September 2, 2011, Dr. Kerksick was relieved of all university duties and is to never seek employment or student enrollment with any school under the OU Board of Regents.

Both the university and Kerksick are bound by a confidentiality clause in the agreement.

But one of his former students is speaking out about what happened.

"It presents a very big moral dilemma that needs to be addressed." said the student, who asked to remain anonymous.  "People need to be aware of it."

This whistle blower not only talked with us during our report in October, but he filed a federal complaint.

He has now talked with investigators about Kerksick and his research practices.

The student has handed over all his documents, as well as audio and video recordings to those investigators.

He also handed over threatening emails.

"You saw that email.  They want my head in a box! Also there's other emails where they're fabricating information in attempts to discredit me," he said.

This student says despite the injuries he personally incurred, he does not fault the university or the Health and Exercise Science Department.

He only wanted to make the university and others aware of what was happening.

"I know I didn't do anything wrong and if someone wants to investigate, by all means do so!"

We received this response from University of Oklahoma:

The University of Oklahoma takes very seriously any complaints it receives and works to do a thorough investigation of all such complaints. For purposes of protecting both the complainant and the accused in such investigations, strict confidentiality is maintained. Rest assured the University is dedicated to holding individuals accountable for findings of impropriety. At the same time, the University is also committed to ensuring that wrongfully accused individuals are not vilified.

While I cannot speak on about any specific settlement agreements, any settlement or other agreement that the University enters into is entered into only after a full evaluation of all of the facts and surrounding circumstances and following a thorough negotiation process that takes into account the costs and benefits of each term.

---Catherine Bishop
University of Oklahoma Spokesperson