UW-Madison men’s basketball staff member accused of using racial epithet resigns

University says Helland used racially insensitive language in front of student-athletes
Erik Helland
Via uwbadgers.com

MADISON, Wis. — A University of Wisconsin-Madison staff member has resigned from his position in the athletics department Thursday following an allegation that a university staff member directed a racial epithet at Badgers basketball player.

University of Wisconsin-Madison Athletics spokesman Patrick Herb said in a news release Thursday that Erik Helland, director of strength and conditioning, resigned his position Thursday afternoon. Helland had been the strength and conditioning coach for the Wisconsin men’s basketball program since 2013.

The Associated Press reported Thursday morning that the university was investigating an allegation that a university staff member directed a racial epithet at Badgers basketball player Kobe King.

The university called reports that the racially insensitive language was directed at one student-athlete are “inaccurate.” Herb 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.”

Herb said the UW Athletics administration was informed over the 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 said it confirmed it 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,” Herb said in a news release.

Helland was placed on administrative leave Monday and didn’t travel with the team to Minnesota for the game Wednesday, university officials said.