Wisconsin strength coach resigns after using racial epithet around Badgers players
“I was sharing a story from my NBA career and was explaining the intensity of a particular athlete. I quoted that individual and in doing so repeated a repugnant word. In no way were these my words and I clearly stated my disapproval,” Helland told Potrykus. “From the beginning I owned what I said and made apologies to the student-athletes effected. I made a mistake in a moment of inattentiveness. For that, I have the deepest regret. “I cannot overstate this: I would never do anything, nor have I ever done anything, to intentionally insult or hurt any of our student athletes. I would never do anything to hurt our team. I was trying to illustrate a point. It’s a word I never say. It’s not my word. Again, I was devastated when I realized what I had done. I made my apologies and everything was good. “When it initially happened we dealt with it within the program. I specifically addressed the student-athletes and we handled it as a team. It really didn’t come back up until Kobe decided that he wanted to leave.” Erik Helland, the strength and conditioning coach for the Wisconsin athletic program, has resigned from his position after an internal investigation determined he used a racial epithet in a conversation with Badgers men’s basketball players.According to a statement from the Wisconsin athletic department, Helland was recounting a story from his days in the NBA — he worked in the league for 25 years, including with the Bulls during their run of six league championships — when he used the word in the presence of several Badgers players. The athletic department was able to confirm this occurred by Monday. He was placed on administrative leave and did not join the team on its trip to a road game Wednesday at Minnesota. MORE: Big Ten teams facing unprecedented level of parity in league“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 release said.There had been reports that a racial slur had been directed at former player Kobe King, who left the Badgers last week citing issues with how he was treated while a member of the team.“That allegation is inaccurate,” the UW release stated. “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.”Helland joined the Wisconsin men’s basketball program in 2013 and was promoted in 2015 to oversee all conditioning and training for the university’s athletics programs.He told Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he had apologized to the team for a mistake he described as devastating and believed the matter was closed.