UC Berkeley team doctor has been suspended while under investigation

A University of California Berkeley team doctor has been on leave since December while a law firm hired by the school conducts an investigation into allegations of misconduct against the physician, the Southern California News Group has learned.

Dr. Kent Scheff, an associate team physician for Cal’s athletic teams, was placed on “investigatory leave” on December 15, a spokesman for the school confirmed.  

“As per policies that protect privacy, personnel issues and due process, all we are able to say is that Dr. Scheff remains on investigatory leave,” Cal said in a statement to SCNG.

The revelation of Scheff’s leave comes against the backdrop of three investigations into allegations of bullying by Cal women’s swimming head coach Teri McKeever recounted to the SCNG by 36 current or former Golden Bears Cal swimmers and divers, 17 parents, a former member of the Cal men’s swimming and diving squad, two former coaches and two former Cal athletic department employees.

The investigation into Scheff was prompted by complaints last year by Cal female athletes who alleged misconduct by the doctor, according to a UC Berkeley athlete who has been interviewed by attorneys hired by the university.

Female Cal athletes were contacted by Jamie Luguri, an attorney for the Los Angeles office of the law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson in February, according to emails and the woman interviewed for the investigation.

“We are investigating a confidential matter on behalf of UC Berkeley regarding allegations of misconduct involving a UC Berkeley medical provider,” Luguri wrote in an email to a Cal athlete. “We believe you may have relevant information.”

The documents did not detail the nature and extent of the alleged misconduct.

UC Berkeley associate team physician Kent Scheff is under an investigatory suspension at the school. (UC Berkeley photo) 

Attempts to reach Scheff were unsuccessful.

Munger, Tolles & Olson was also retained by Cal last month to investigate the allegations against McKeever in a series of reports by SCNG. The swimmers and their supporters recounted how McKeever allegedly routinely bullied swimmers, often in deeply personal terms, or used embarrassing or traumatic experiences from their past against them, used racial epithets, body-shamed and pressured athletes to compete or train while injured or dealing with chronic illnesses or eating disorders, even accusing some women of lying about their conditions despite being provided medical records by them.

McKeever was placed on paid administrative leave by the university on May 25, a day after the first SCNG report was published. McKeever, the 2012 U.S. Olympic women’s team’s head coach who has also led Cal to four NCAA team titles, is also being investigated by the university’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination for allegedly using a racial epithet and profanities in disparaging rap music, according to five swimmers, two parents and confidential university documents obtained by SCNG.

The OPHD investigation into the incident initially focused on potential racial discrimination but has since been expanded to also consider possible discrimination based on sexual orientation and national origin, according to swimmers, parents and university documents. The OPHD investigation was launched prior to the initial SCNG report.

McKeever is also being investigated by the U.S. Center for SafeSport, according to swimmers contacted by the center and emails related to the investigation.

McKeever has repeatedly declined comment. An attorney for her said she is the victim of gender bias in which female coaches are held to different standards than their male counterparts.

Scheff joined the Cal sports medicine staff in 2017. He played football and wrestled at Waldorf College before attending the University of Minnesota medical school and doing a sports medicine fellowship at the University of Michigan.

The state medical board has not taken any disciplinary action against Scheff that it is required to report, according to the board’s website.

RELATED:

UC Berkeley swimmers allege coach Teri McKeever bullied and verbally abused them for years

UC Berkeley places swim coach Teri McKeever on administrative leave

 

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