Penn State’s Pat Chambers resigns after alleged noose comment

Penn State men’s basketball coach Pat Chambers resigned on Wednesday following an investigation into “new allegations of inappropriate conduct,” the school announced.

Chambers was in hot water after Rasir Bolton, who transferred from Penn State to Iowa State during Chambers’ tenure, alleged that the coach made an inappropriate reference to a noose with him.

Per Penn State, new allegations against Chambers surfaced after Bolton spoke to The Undefeated about the incident, and a review was conducted by the school’s Affirmative Action and Athletics Integrity offices. It does not specify what those allegations were, though PennLive’s David Jones reports that investigators spoke to many players and coaches about Chambers’ treatment of them as well as possible recruiting irregularities.

Penn State assistant coach Jim Ferry will serve as interim head coach for the 2020-21 season.

Pat Chambers is out at Penn State. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)


Why Pat Chambers is out at Penn State

Bolton made headlines in July when he posted a statement explaining his decision to transfer from Penn State, more than a year after he landed at Iowa State.

Bolton pointed to an incident in which Chambers made a reference to a “noose” around his player’s neck. Bolton said he immediately confronted Chambers and Penn State officials about the comment, but received no apology and only tips on how to deal with Chambers’ personality type. Bolton claims he was then isolated among the team.

Bolton’s conversation with The Undefeated shed more light on the context of Chambers’ comment:

The day after the Wisconsin game, Chambers told Bolton he knew the freshman was under a lot of pressure and wanted to help him. Bolton recalls Chambers, who was on the hot seat due to the suspension and a 7-8 record at that point in the season, saying, “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 added that he didn’t believe Chambers’ use of “noose” was a slip of the tongue based on his other interactions with the coach.

Chamber apologized, but only after Bolton made his allegations public. He confirmed that he used the word “noose” while speaking with Bolton and said he deeply regrets it, but claimed to have apologized during the meeting.

Bolton played only one season at Penn State, where he flashed potential and averaged 11.6 points and two rebounds per game. He would later receive All-Big 12 honorable mention in his first season with Iowa State.

Former Penn State captain Josh Reaves backed up Bolton’s account of the incident, saying Chambers’ comment was “f- – – ed up” and “wrong” in any type of context. Reaves said Chambers also approached him following the comment while attempting some kind of damage control.

Before all this happened, Chambers had been suspended for one game after he was seen berating and shoving freshman Myles Dread, a close friend of Bolton’s, in a huddle.

It’s the end of a nine-year tenure at Penn State for Chambers, who oversaw a rise from Big Ten doormats to respectability for the Nittany Lions. The team won the NIT championship in 2018 and was on track for its first NCAA tournament berth since 2011 this year until the COVID-19 pandemic swallowed the season.

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