Penn State basketball coach apologizes for 2019 ‘noose’ comment

Pat Chambers says 'I didn’t realize that word would hurt him and I am truly, truly sorry for that'

Head coach Pat Chambers of the Penn State Nittany Lions (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Penn State University basketball coach, Pat Chambers, apologized to a former player regarding a comment he made last year. According to the student, the remark offended him so much, it was one of the reasons he transferred from the school.

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Rasir Bolton told The Undefeated that after a particularly difficult game, Chambers told him, “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.” 

The comment occurred in 2019, but under the lens of the increasing racial tension in the country, the lack of cultural competency for a coach who leads mostly Black players is glaring. 

Chambers apologized after hearing that his actions prompted Bolton to leave his school. “I didn’t realize that word would hurt him and I am truly, truly sorry for that,” the coach offered.

Penn State v Northwestern
Lamar Stevens #11 of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks on in front of Penn State head coach Pat Chambers. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

When Bolton told his parents, they contacted Penn State administrators. Bolton was referred to the school’s psychologist to “learn how to deal with Chambers’ personality type.” Chambers was not required to undergo any diversity training. 

Bolton hadn’t spoken about the incident until this week when amid the ongoing racial justice protests taking place around the country, the player posted a lengthy message to Twitter called, “Why I chose to leave Penn State.” 

The post was met with mixed responses. One detractor wrote, “I can’t roll my eyes hard enough.” Other users echoed the challenges of microaggressions experienced by African Americans. 

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In the post, Bolton also mentioned that Chambers once told him that his parents were “organized,” and “well-spoken,” the comments were understood as the age-old assumption that Black people are inarticulate. 

After reporting the incidents to the NCAA, Bolton was given a waiver and left Penn State for Iowa State. He said that he posted the statement because he hoped it would help other Black student-athletes who may be afraid to speak up because they are afraid of losing their scholarships or playing time. 

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