Chambers sorry for poor choice of words

Patrick Chambers instructs Jamari Wheeler during a game from last season. The Associated Press

From Mirror reports

UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State men’s basketball coach Patrick Chambers came under fire nationally Monday due to a comment he made in January of 2019 to Rasir Bolton, a point guard who was a freshman at the time.

According to a commentary from theundefeated.com, Chambers told Bolton the following, “I want to be a stress reliever for you. You can talk to me about anything. I need to get some of this pressure off you. I want to loosen the noose that’s around your neck.”

Bolton, who transferred to Iowa State following his freshman year, explained Monday that Chambers’ comment led to his decision to leave Penn State.

“A ‘noose’ around my neck is why I left Penn State,” Bolton wrote on Twitter. “Head Coach Patrick Chambers, the day after his one-game suspension in January 2019, in talking to me referenced a ‘noose’ around my neck. A noose, symbolic of lynching, defined as one of the most powerful symbols directed at African Americans invoking the history of lynching, slavery and racial terrorism. Due to other interactions with Coach, I knew this was no slip of the tongue.”

Bolton said he reported the incident to his academic advisor, confronted Chambers and spoke directly with the athletic director’s office. He also said his parents contacted the school.

Chambers also released a statement on Twitter Monday.

“I’ve realized the pain my words and ignorance caused Rasir Bolton and his family and I apologize to Rasir and the Bolton family for what I said. I failed to comprehend the experiences of others, and the reference I made was hurtful, insensitive and unacceptable. I cannot apologize enough for what I said, and I will carry that forever,” Chambers wrote. “I try and respond to mistakes I have made by learning and growing, and I hold myself accountable and strive to be a better person and a better coach. In talking with our players and their families, I am committed to seeking knowledge and gaining a better understanding of diverse perspectives and impact of bias in our society. I have much more to learn.”

Bolton said Chambers never apologized prior to his post Monday. Other men’s basketball players on the squad at the time disputed that and came to the defense of Chambers on social media.

“He apologized to him the same day and then apologize(d) to the team the next day in a team meeting,” wrote Jamari Wheeler, who will be a senior this season.

Lamar Stevens, the second all-time leading scorer in the Penn State men’s basketball program who just finished his collegiate career, wrote on Twitter that his experiences with Chambers were not similar to Bolton’s.

“He used a poor choice of words but Coach Chambers is a great man who made a mistake,” Stevens wrote. “His actions towards all his current and past players speaks much more volume. Do I wish he used another phrase to get his message across to Rasir? 100%. But he is far from a racist or a bad man.”

Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour also released a statement about the comments.

“Patrick Chambers deeply regrets the words he chose and understands the pain he caused Rasir Bolton and his family,” Barbour wrote. “Patrick has stated that he is committed to educating himself and he is actively working to learn and grow, which will be imperative to his future success at Penn State.”

Chambers is 148-150 in nine seasons as the Penn State men’s basketball coach. The Nittany Lions won the NIT title in 2018 and won 26 games that season. Penn State finished this year 21-10 and appeared to be a lock for its first NCAA Tournament appearance under Chambers before the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Barbour said the Black community of students need to feel safe and the school is working toward goals to make that happen.

Penn State will hold an annual Intercollegiate Athletics climate survey to gain feedback on the culture and take action based on the results to address the issues and work with the Student-Athlete Advisory Board’s Welfare Committee on enhancing the quality of life and personal growth of student athletes.


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