Penn State head coach Pat Chambers responds to recent statement from ex-Lion Rasir Bolton
Penn State head basketball coach Pat Chambers has responded to the statement released by former Nittany Lions player Rasir Bolton, who claimed his decision to leave the program was due to a racially insensitive comment made by the head coach.
On Monday, Bolton tweeted out that a “noose” comment made by Chambers during his freshman season (2018-19), as well as other racially insensitive comments, led to his decision to leave Penn State. Shortly after Bolton released that statement, Chambers responded with a message of his own on Twitter.
“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,” Chambers said. “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 am committed to seeking knowledge and gaining better understanding of diverse perspectives and impact of bias in our society. I have much more to learn.”
Bolton played at Penn State for one season before transferring to Iowa State. He averaged 11.6 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists per contest as a freshman with the Nittany Lions.
On Monday, Bolton released his statement on his decision to leave the program.
“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 team, 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 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.”
“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 5 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 that 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.”
Bolton is now at Iowa State. You can read his full statement on the situation here.