The University of Wisconsin’s men’s basketball strength and conditioning coach has resigned after using racist language among UW student athletes, according to a statement from the Athletic Department.
Erik Helland was placed on administrative leave Monday after athletic department officials confirmed Sunday that he had used racist language in the presence of students.
“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. 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,” the statement said.
Media reports indicated that an unnamed member of the staff had directed racial slurs at a student athlete; the statement said this is not accurate.
“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 statement said.
The UW athletics website says Helland was in his seventh year with the UW’s men’s basketball team, and has also overseen all strength and conditioning programs for all sports since 2015. He worked in the NBA for 25 years, the bulk of that time with the Chicago Bulls.
Redshirt sophomore Kobe King recently announced that he intended to leave the program and transfer. It is unclear whether Helland’s use of racial epithets led to King’s departure. If King could demonstrate a hostile environment he could be eligible to transfer and join another program immediately, rather than sitting out a year as is usually required.