Ole Miss Softball Coach Katie Rietkovich Browder was cleared of all sex and bribery charges today by the school’s Title IX office following a thorough investigation.
Though initially receiving an anonymous report that the coach attempted to bribe head coach Jamie Trachsel to help cover up an affair with one of her students, the school could find no evidence that the event or action ever took place.
After some of the sources involved in the allegation probe refused to speak with the Title IX office, which operates to combat sexual discrimination in educational programs, the investigation closed.
“Following a comprehensive investigation by the university’s Title IX office, the anonymous allegations of inappropriate behavior by the softball staff are unsubstantiated,” wrote Ole Miss Athletic Director Keith Carter in an official statement. “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.”
“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,” Carter continued.
“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,” the statement read. “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.”
According to the investigation, the probe started when an anonymous letter received by Carter detailed that coach Katie Rietkovich Browder asked coach Jamie Trachsel to keep the relationship between her and another student secret by bribing them with scholarship money.
One of the other players, who was reportedly dating the athlete Coach Katie Rietkovich Browder was reportedly having an affair with, later taped printed-out screenshots of text messages between the two onto the coach’s computer at school.
Though cleared of all charges due to unsubstantiated evidence, the Title IX investigation results made no mention of these text messages, or if that were falsified.
A separate complaint was also filed with the Ole Miss Equal Opportunity and Regulation Southeastern Conference Compliance and NCAA Academic and Membership Affairs in May, alleging that coach Trachsel, “created and embraced a mentally toxic culture.” The Equal Opportunity investigation also yielded unsubstantiated evidence.
The source who spoke to USA Today about the athletes who refused to speak with the Title IX office did not provide a reason why they would be hesitant to share their story. According to the New York Post, both athletes involved said that they would be returning to Ole Miss to complete their Covid-19 super senior year.
“We would like to express our sincere thanks and gratitude to our university leadership for thoroughly reviewing this matter and reaching a conclusion,” Ole Miss Softball Coach Trachsel said in an official statement.
“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,” she said. “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.”
Ole Miss Softball Coach Katie Rietkovich Browder has yet to comment on the clearing of her charges.