Penn State men’s basketball coach Pat Chambers is apologizing for his choice of words after it was revealed that he made a racially insensitive comment to an African American player in 2019 about a noose.
On Monday (July 6,) former guard Rasir Bolton, who is African American, posted to social media his reason for transferring to Iowa State after his freshman year. In the post, he described an incident in which the coach said: “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 says he reported the comment to the school and got his parents involved. He said Chambers, who is white, acknowledged the comment, but never apologized.
“Head coach Patrick Chambers, the day after his one-game suspension (for shoving a player in a game against Michigan) in January 2019, in talking to me referenced a ‘noose’ around my neck,” Bolton’s post read. “A noose: symbolic of lynching, defined in 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.”
Chambers has since issued an apology on Twitter for what he said:
“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,” his post read. “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.”
In an interview with The Undefeated, Coach Chambers said that he “didn’t realize that word would hurt him and I am truly, truly sorry for that.”
He is currently gearing up for his 10th season at Penn State. In the 2019-20 season the team went 21-10 overall and 11-9 in the Big Ten Conference. It is unclear if he will face disciplinary action for the comment from the school or the NCAA.
While at Penn in 2018-19, Bolton played 32 games, started in nine and averaged 11.6 points per game. At Iowa State, he started in 30 games and averaged about 15 points per game.