University of Wisconsin officials are investigating the events that led to Kobe King’s decision to depart the men's basketball program.
King announced his decision to immediately leave Jan. 29. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel informed UW senior associate athlete director Justin Doherty on Wednesday that it had learned of an allegation that “a racial epithet was directed at Kobe King by a UW staffer.”
“UW athletics administration was made aware of an allegation Sunday afternoon and has already taken measures to address it,” Doherty said in a statement during Wisconsin’s 70-51 loss at Minnesota on Wednesday. “Anytime we are made of an allegation of any kind, it is handled with the utmost seriousness.
“There is absolutely no place in UW athletics for the type of behavior being alleged.”
The Journal Sentinel's Jeff Potrykus posted on Twitter Thursday morning that "Badgers officials confirmed strength coach Erik Helland, who did not travel with the team to Minnesota, is on administrative leave."
Doherty told the Wisconsin State Journal last week that the athletic department tries to meet with every player who decides to transfer.
“When a student-athlete leaves the university or leave the program, every situation is different and has its own set of circumstances around it,” Doherty said. “Our philosophy here, our approach here, has always been that we want what’s best for the student-athletes and in this case, if a student-athlete feels it’s in their best interest to leave at a given time, then they need to do what’s best for them and from our standpoint, we support them in terms of helping them in that transition.”
King’s initial Instagram post announcing his decision to transfer said that he wanted to find a better fit for his basketball future.
“After talking with my family and friends I have decided that the best step for my future basketball aspirations, as well as my love for the game, is to immediately step away from the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball program,” King’s Instagram post said. “This has been a very tough decision for me…however, after spending almost three years in the Wisconsin program I have realized that this program is not the right fit for me as a player and person.”
King spoke to the State Journal the following day, discussing how his frustration with the program and Gard had been building since his first year on campus in 2017-18. He said how he felt like he was only being used to win or lose games.
“I just talked to him about the way we were talked to as a team,” King said about a meeting he had with Gard after Dec. 11 loss to Rutgers. “It’s not about the negativity always, because I’ve seen that.”
“Our staff and I care about our players very deeply,” Gard told the State Journal last week. “And we do all we can do to help our players in their experience here. We help them through real-life challenges, athletic challenges, academic challenges and we’re always there for them, morning noon and night.”
A redshirt sophomore who averaged 10.0 points in 19 games this season, King would likely have to sit out a year at his new school before playing his senior season in 2021-22.