A softball coach at Bemidji State University in Minnesota has been dismissed from the program after being placed on a leave of absence earlier this year. The reason? According to a Bemidji Pioneer report, Rick Supinski was found by the university to have engaged in inappropriate behavior around the team, including a disturbing, months-long courtship of one of his own players.
From the report:
“It progressed to being more advanced in nature, more sexual (as time went on),” the player said. “… He would text me more, which is kind of weird in itself, about things unrelated to softball. And then it became obviously more inappropriate.”
Screenshots obtained by the Pioneer include dozens of texts Supinski sent in his prolonged attempt to develop a relationship with the player.
In one message, he texted the player, “I wanna make love to you in the mornings… just wondering if you would be into it. Good way to start our days off.” Several messages later, he confessed, “I honestly cant hide the fact that I adore you any longer.”
The player says she felt ostracized from the team due to all the attention she received from Supinski, and on March 22 finally told some of her teammates what was going on. Her teammates, who believed she was just “Coach’s favorite,” said that they didn’t know the extent of the harassment until this year. They encouraged the unnamed player to come forward to the school’s administration with the text messages.
Two days later, on March 24, Supinski was put on leave through the end of the year, when his contract with BSU ended; he was not offered a new one, and so the Beavers will have a new coach next season. Assistant coach Brittany Gomez took over the team after Supinski’s leave of absence, later being named the team’s interim head coach while a search for a new permanent replacement is found.
Among Supinski’s inappropriate behavior were texts to other players that seemingly started innocently before turning sexual in nature. According to the Pioneer’s report, he also preferred inappropriate jokes about drug usage, while also “constantly ask[ing] people if they were late to their Special Olympics practice.” The player who reported Supinski’s advances told the Pioneer that the former coach has not reached out to her since March 22.
Supinski’s recent behavior was reportedly not out of the blue; the 50-year-old was placed on a season-long, paid leave back in 2014 for what players on that team said was similarly inappropriate behavior. The administration never told the team nor the press why Supinski was placed on leave five years ago, and he returned to coach the team in 2015 all the way until March of this year, despite players meeting with Director of Athletics Tracy Dill in the spring of 2018 to detail more aggressive and offensive behavior from Supinski.