Categories
Chambers State

Penn State’s Pat Chambers apologizes for racially-charged ‘noose’ comment to Rasir Bolton – NJ.com

Penn State men’s basketball coach Pat Chambers issued an apology Monday for comments he made to former guard Rasir Bolton

The 20-year-old Bolton began the conversation Monday morning with a social media post titled “Why I chose to leave Penn State.” In it, Bolton discussed the reason why he transferred to Iowa State following his freshman season.

A “noose” around my neck is why I left Penn State. 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 Americas invoking the history of lynching, slavery and racial terrorism. Due to other interactions with Coach, I knew this was no slip of the tongue.

Introducing Rutgers Sports Insider: Sign up for exclusive news, behind-the-scenes observations and the ability to text message directly with beat writers

Chambers responded on Twitter and accepted responsibility for his statement.

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.

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 a 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.

It is critically important for me to recognize my responsibility in better understanding the experiences of others and I am committed to doing the necessary work required to do just that. I love our student-athletes and want each of them to grow and succeed, individually, and as part of our team. I promise that I will keep listening. I will keep learning, and continue our conversations within our team and our Penn State family.

Chambers was reacting to the short essay posted Monday by Bolton, in which he explained his decision to leave Happy Valley.

For the past year, many have questioned why I left Penn State after my freshman year. I was a scholarship athlete on the Men’s Basketball program. I got playing time, I started part of the season and I was on the Dean’s List. I formed many relationships at Penn State that I still maintain today. However, no one ever stops to consider that there is more to a college athlete than the sport. We are human, we are young men and women, and in my case, I am a young Black man FIRST.

A “noose” around my neck is why I left Penn State. 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 Americas invoking the history of lynching, slavery and racial terrorism. Due to other interactions with Coach, I knew this was no slip of the tongue.

I reported this immediately to my academic advisor. I confronted Coach Chambers. I spoke directly with the AD’s office myself. My parents contacted the AD’s office in writing and by phone. My parents drove the five hours to Penn State to meet with the AD’s office and Coach Chambers more than once. During this time Coach Chambers admitted to what he said.

I was provided one meeting and a phone number to text with a psychologist. I was taught “ways to deal with Coach Chambers’ personality type.”

Coach Chambers never apologized, he said he was “from the north and wasn’t aware.” Subtle repercussions followed. Some teammates were told I couldn’t be trusted and I was told the team didn’t trust me. I wasn’t “all in” and “loyal.” Because I stood up for myself? During my final player/coach meeting in April 2019, Coach Chambers told me he was really impressed with how well spoken and organized my parents were.” Yet, another subtle insult.

I only heard fro Penn State’s Integrity Office in reference to my situation six months later, once I was at my new school, requesting a waiver. I tell this story because it is not alleged, it was admitted to and documented.

I was provided what my family and I consider surface level resources while still finishing the season, practicing and participating in team events under Coach Chambers. Had I or my parents reacted differently, it would have only hurt me; had I quit, it would have only hurt me. I chose to use my head.

I wasn’t the first and I know I won’t be the last. Everyone’s position to speak out isn’t the same so I am only speaking for myself. There is serious need for change in the way players are protected and helped across the country when faced with these situations. Surface level resources are not good enough. In most cases it is the Coach who is protected, while the player is left to deal with it or leave.

BE the change you want to see.

On the court, Bolton played in 32 games at Penn State in 2018-19, starting in nine and averaging 11.6 points per game.

The next year at Iowa State, Bolton started 30 games and averaged almost 15 points per game.

Off the court, stories like the one told by Bolton are finally having a chance to see the light of day in the wake of the George Floyd protests following his death in May and the subsequent momentum built by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Chambers is preparing for his 10th season as head coach at Penn State. The men’s basketball coach previously owned up to his noose comments to Bolton, telling The Undefeated, “I didn’t realize that word would hurt him, and I am truly, truly sorry for that.”

Get Rutgers Sports Insider text messages from reporters: Cut through the clutter of social media and communicate directly with the Rutgers beat writers. Plus, exclusive news and analysis every day. Sign up now.

Thank you for relying on us to provide the journalism you can trust. Please consider supporting NJ.com with a voluntary subscription.

Mike Rosenstein may be reached at mrosenstein@njadvancemedia.com. Tell us your coronavirus story or send a tip here.

Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission.

Read More