Lamar Stevens, Penn State Hoops Players Defend Pat Chambers
Several current and former Penn State men’s basketball players have shared their thoughts on an alleged incident that occurred between head coach Pat Chambers and Rasir Bolton.
The former Nittany Lion guard posted a tweet Monday morning explaining that Chambers referenced a noose in conversations while practicing, which he says is the reason he transferred to Iowa State. Bolton wrote that the incident occurred in January 2019, and explained to The Undefeated that Chambers said he wanted to “loosen the noose that’s around [his] neck.”
Bolton said he reported the coach’s comments to his adviser, confronted Chambers, and “spoke directly” to the athletic director’s office. His parents were also in contact with administrators and reportedly drove to Penn State to meet with Chambers.
Despite that, Bolton claimed Chambers didn’t apologize to him after the incident occurred. Six months later, Bolton heard back from Penn State’s Integrity Office, but at that point he’d already transferred to Iowa State.
Chambers released a statement Monday morning in which he did apologize to Bolton and his family. The head coach explained that he will continue to talk with players and their families in an effort to seek more knowledge and have a better understanding of “diverse perspectives.”
“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 wrote.
Along with the head coach’s statements, former Penn State men’s basketball star Lamar Stevens came to the defense of Chambers on Twitter. When asked if he thought his former head coach was “a good man and accidentally used a bad phrase as a metaphor,” Stevens stated that Chambers is “a great man who made a mistake.”
Stevens went on to say that he wishes Chambers used a different phrase to get his message across to Bolton, but he is “far from a racist or a bad man.”
Senior point guard Jamari Wheeler released a statement on Twitter Monday afternoon in which he also defended his head coach.
“I want to start off by saying my teammates and I never had any racial incidents with Coach Chambers. He’s a great coach and an even better man and father, he accepted every person on the team and welcomed them with open arms no matter the race!,” Wheeler wrote.
Wheeler added that Chambers and his staff discussed the incident with the team “on multiple occasions.” He also stated that Chambers “apologized multiple times about what was said.”
In a separate tweet, Wheeler stated that Chambers apologized to Bolton “the same day” of the incident and apologized to the team the next day during a team-wide meeting.
Junior guard Myles Dread also tweeted on Monday afternoon. While he didn’t directly address the incident between Chambers and Bolton, he stated that “there’s a lot more than just what meets the eye.”
Penn State vice president for intercollegiate athletics Sandy Barbour also issued a statement Monday and included steps the department will take to address these issues moving forward. Barbour explained that Chambers “deeply regrets” his words and is now committed to educating himself on the issues.
“Our black community of students, faculty, and staff must have the opportunity to feel safe, respected, and welcome at Penn State, and clearly our past actions and words have not always contributed positively to that goal,” Barbour wrote. “It is our obligation to embrace all in our community regardless of differences — the color of their skin, their ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or gender should not matter.”
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