Badgers strength and conditioning coach, Erik Helland, has resigned this afternoon. Helland had been UW’s strength and conditioning coach for the Wisconsin men’s basketball program since 2013.
Kobe King over the weekend said that a racial epithet was directed towards him, so he could pull a Justin Fields (QB transfer from Georgia to Ohio State) who did the same thing so Fields could immediately play after transferring.
Helland said that he used an inappropriate word in January 3 while team was in Columbus. Was telling a story, offered context but apologized to UW players, Kobe King wasn’t present. Helland thought players were fine with apology.
However, in the days between the Badgers loss to Iowa and win over Michigan State, Helland heard rumblings that the issue might be pushed in the public eye. He then reported the issue to Greg Gard and other UW officials.
Helland felt bad about the matter and didn’t want anyone to use his mistake as a means to take shots at the Badgers program. Helland is devastated. He did decline to identify the person(s) he thought might share the original incident publicly.
Helland said about 20 minutes ago: “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. 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 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 he wanted to leave.”
To summarize: Helland thought matter was closed and the players were OK with his apologies. Then he heard rumblings that someone (Kobe King) was going to shed light on the incident.
In my words: I know Helland’s character, he’s not a hateful man. Using language in telling a story is poor judgement, but it’s not hateful. 30+ years in the NBA and with Badgers is now tainted because Kobe King wants immediate eligibility. Wow.
So let’s revisit:
Kobe King quit on his team with 10+ games remaining in the season, dragged his head coach down publicly, and threw the strength and conditioning coach under the bus causing him to lose his job. All so he could skate the NCAA transfer rules to play immediately next year. That’s really cool dude!