Wisconsin men’s basketball strength coach resigns after university determines he used a ‘racial epithet’


Wisconsin men’s basketball strength coach Erik Helland resigned Thursday after the university determined he used a “racial epithet” around members of the team.

“UW Athletics administration was informed last weekend that Helland, while recounting a story from earlier in his NBA career, had used a racial epithet in the presence of multiple Wisconsin men’s basketball student-athletes,” read a statement from the University of Wisconsin athletic department. “UW Athletics confirmed that assertion on Sunday. UW Athletics works to promote a safe and welcoming environment for its student-athletes and staff and the aforementioned language used does not align with the values of the athletic department, men’s basketball program or the university.”

Helland was placed on administrative leave Monday and did not travel with the team for its loss at Minnesota on Wednesday night. He was promoted to director of strength and conditioning in 2015. The Wisconsin native worked for the Chicago Bulls from 1988 until 2013.

His resignation marks the latest moment of turmoil for a Wisconsin program that recently lost its second-leading scorer, Kobe King, who announced in January that he had, “realized that this program is not the right fit for me as a player and person.”

Reports circulated this week suggesting King had been that target of a racial epithet from a Wisconsin staff member. But the Thursday statement from the university’s athletic department denied that.

“That allegation is inaccurate,” the statement said. “UW Athletics has no evidence — nor has it been alleged to the athletic department — that Helland directed racially insensitive language toward any member of the men’s basketball team.”

The Badgers (13-10, 6-6 Big Ten) are 1-2 since King left the team. They host Ohio State on Sunday.





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