A week after accusations of inappropriate behavior and attempted bribes were made public against Ole Miss softball coaches Katie Rietkovich Browder and Jamie Trachsel, the two were cleared by the school’s Title IX office after an investigation, according to USA Today.
Browder, an assistant coach who is married, was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a student-athlete. Trachsel, the head coach, was accused of attempting to cover up the alleged relationship by bribing players with scholarship money to remain quiet.
An individual close to the investigation told USA Today that some involved declined to speak with the university’s Title IX office. The players were informed of the investigation results Wednesday afternoon, according to the report.
Ole Miss athletic director Keith Carter — who initially received a letter detailing the allegations of sexual misconduct and attempted bribes on July 29 — shared a statement about the investigation results.
“Following a comprehensive investigation by the university’s Title IX office, the anonymous allegations of inappropriate behavior by the softball staff are unsubstantiated. In addition, other anonymous allegations involving the culture of the softball program have been thoroughly reviewed by Athletics Compliance staff and were determined not to be in violation of any policies,” Carter said, according to USA Today.
“The well-being and experience of our student-athletes will always be our top priority, and through this extensive review, we discussed these anonymous claims with our players and all were unsubstantiated.”
A separate formal complaint was sent to the offices of Ole Miss Equal Opportunity and Regulation, Southeastern Conference Compliance and NCAA Academic and Membership Affairs on May 10 — that alleged Trachsel “created and embraced a mentally toxic culture” and failed the program based on NCAA Bylaw 2.2, “where she is responsible for providing an environment that values cultural diversity and gender equality.”
“Coach Trachsel and her staff are committed to building a healthy program and are working to address any issues to ensure a positive team environment,” Carter continued. “The staff has our full support, and we look forward to continuing our trajectory as one of the rising softball teams in the sport. This has been an emotional ordeal for our coaches and student-athletes, and we will assist them in moving forward from this matter.”
Trachsel — who led Ole Miss to a 36-22 record in her first season with the Rebels program — shared a separate statement thanking the university.
“We would like to express our sincere thanks and gratitude to our university leadership for thoroughly reviewing this matter and reaching a conclusion,” Trachsel said.
“The outpouring of support from family, friends, staff, colleagues and current and former student-athletes has not only been overwhelming but given us courage and strength through this situation. It has been an emotional time for our entire program, but I have no doubt our coaches and players will grow stronger together as we move through this shared experience. We look forward to putting this behind us as a team, as we continue to build our championship culture and compete for more titles here at Ole Miss.”
News of the Ole Miss Rebels softball scandal broke last week, when Carter received a letter from another senior athlete on the team detailing the alleged situation. The senior athlete, who has not been named, was reportedly dating the athlete involved with Browder.
The unnamed Ole Miss player reportedly took screenshots of text messages between her girlfriend and Browder, printed the exchanges and taped them to a computer in the coach’s office.