Pat Chambers of Penn State apologizes for commenting on racist “noose” to Rasir Bolton

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

Bolton, 20, started the conversation on Monday morning with an article on social media titled “Why I chose to leave Penn State”. In it, Bolton discussed why he was transferred to the state of Iowa after his first year.

A “noose” around my neck is the reason I left Penn State. Head coach Patrick Chambers, the day after he suspended a game in January 2019, speaking to me, referred to a “noose” around my neck. A noose, symbolic of lynching, defined as one of the most powerful symbols for the African Americas invoking the history of lynching, slavery and racial terrorism. Due to other interactions with Coach, I knew it was not a slip of the tongue.

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Chambers responded on Twitter and accepted responsibility for his statement.

I realized the pain my words and my ignorance caused Rasir Bolton and his family and I apologize to Rasir and the Bolton family for what I said. I did not understand the experiences of others and the reference I made was hurtful, insensitive and unacceptable. I can’t apologize enough for what I said, and I will keep it forever.

I try to answer the mistakes I made while learning and growing up, and I hold myself accountable and strive to be a better person and a better coach. In talking to our players and their families, I made a commitment to seek knowledge and better understand the various perspectives and the impact of prejudice in our society. I still have a lot to learn.

It is extremely important for me to recognize my responsibility in a better understanding of the experiences of others and I am determined to do the work necessary to achieve it. I love our student athletes and I want everyone to grow and succeed, individually and as part of our team. I promise to continue listening. I will continue to learn and continue our conversations as part of our Penn State family and team.

Chambers reacted to the short essay published Monday by Bolton, in which he explained his decision to leave Happy Valley.

For the past year, many have wondered why I left Penn State after my first year. I was a fellow basketball program athlete. I had playing time, I started part of the season and I was on the dean’s list. I have formed many relationships at Penn State that I still have today. However, no one ever stops to consider that there is more than one university athlete than sport. We are human, we are young men and women, and in my case, I am a young black man in FIRST.

A “noose” around my neck is the reason I left Penn State. Head coach Patrick Chambers, the day after he suspended a game in January 2019, speaking to me, referred to a “noose” around my neck. A noose, symbolic of lynching, defined as one of the most powerful symbols for the African Americas invoking the history of lynching, slavery and racial terrorism. Due to other interactions with Coach, I knew it was not a slip of the tongue.

I immediately reported this to my educational advisor. I confronted Coach Chambers. I spoke directly with the DA office myself. My parents contacted the DA office in writing and by phone. My parents drove the five hours to Penn State to meet with the DA office and Coach Chambers more than once. Meanwhile, coach Chambers admitted what he said.

I was provided with a meeting and a phone number to send an SMS to a psychologist. I was taught “how to manage the personality type of Coach Chambers”.

Coach Chambers never apologized, he said he was “from the north and he didn’t know”. Subtle repercussions followed. Some teammates told me that you couldn’t trust me and I was told that the team didn’t trust me. I was not “thoroughly” and “faithful”. Because I got up for myself? At my last player / coach meeting in April 2019, coach Chambers told me that he was really impressed with the quality of my parents’ conversation and organization. Yet another subtle insult.

I only heard from the Penn State Integrity Office about my situation six months later, once in my new school, to request a waiver. I am telling this story because it is not alleged, it has been admitted and documented.

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

I was not the first and I know that I will not be the last. Everyone’s position to express themselves is not the same, so I speak only for myself. There is a great need for change in the way players are protected and helped across the country in these situations. Resources at the surface level are not good enough. In most cases, the coach is protected, while the player must take care of it or leave.

Be the change you want to see.

On the field, Bolton played 32 games at Penn State in 2018-2019, starting in nine games and averaging 11.6 points per game.

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

Off the court, stories like the one told by Bolton are finally fortunate in the aftermath of the protests of George Floyd after his death in May and the ensuing momentum created by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Chambers is preparing for his 10th season as head coach at Penn State. The men’s basketball coach had previously acknowledged his comments to Bolton, telling The Undefeated: “I didn’t know that word would hurt him, and I’m really, really sorry for that. “

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