Rasir Bolton: Pat Chambers' 'Noose' Comment Led to Transfer from Penn State

Mark Wogenrich

Rasir Bolton, the former Penn State basketball player who transferred to Iowa State after his freshman season, said he decided to leave after coach Pat Chambers referenced "a noose around my neck" in a meeting between them.

Bolton posted a statement on Twitter and spoke with Jesse Washington of The Undefeated about the incident.

According to Bolton, in January 2019 Chambers said in a meeting that, "I need to get some of this pressure off you. I want to loosen the noose that's around your neck."

Bolton said the incident occurred in early January, one day after Chambers had served a one-game suspension for shoving Myles Dread, a current player for Penn State.

In the game for which Chambers was suspended, Bolton went 2 for 10 and scored 7 points in a 71-52 loss to Wisconsin. Bolton told The Undefeated that Chambers' shoving of Dread had affected the team. The loss to Wisconsin was the second of an eight-game losing streak.

The day after that loss, Chambers approached Bolton in the team's practice gym and made the comment about the noose.

"A 'noose' around my neck is why I left Penn State," Bolton wrote on Twitter. "Head Coach Patrick Chambers, the day after his one-game suspension in January 2019, in talking to me referenced a 'noose' around my neck. A noose; symbolic of lynching, defined as 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."

Bolton said he reported the comment to his academic adviser and Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour. Bolton and his parents met with Chambers and Barbour. In one of those meetings, Chambers admitted to the comment, Bolton said.

In a statement issued Monday, Chambers said, "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."

Bolton said in his Twitter statement that Chambers "never apologized" and added that "subtle repercussions followed." He requested a transfer waiver and was cleared for immediate eligibility at Iowa State.

Bolton also said that he was provided "only surface level resources" in handling the situation.

"I tell this story not because it is alleged," Bolton wrote, "it was admitted to and documented.

... "There is a serious need for change in the way players are protected and helped across the country when faced with these situations," Bolton wrote. "Surface level resources are not good enough. In most cases it is the Coach who is protected, while the player is left to deal with it or leave."

Rasir Bolton Pat Chambers
In this photo taken Feb. 27, 2019, Penn State associate head coach Keith Urgo (left), former guard Rasir Bolton (13) and head coach Patrick Chambers sing the alma mater after a game against Maryland. Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Barbour issued a statement saying that Chambers "deeply regrets the words he chose and understands the pain he caused Rasir Bolton and his family."

Chambers said he "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 try and respond to mistakes I have made by learning and growing, and I hold myself accountable and strive to be a better person and a better coach," Chambers said. "In talking with our players and their families, I am committed to seeking knowledge and gaining a better understanding of diverse perspectives and impact of bias in our society. I have much more to learn."

Two current Penn State players responded with statements. Jamari Wheeler said "my teammates and I never had any racial incidents with Coach Chambers" and called him "a great coach and even better man and father..."

Lamar Stevens said Chambers "used a poor choice of words" with Bolton but "is a great man who made a mistake" and whose actions toward his players "speaks much more volume."

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Comments (1)
No. 1-1

College 'coaches' are supposed to be teaching young men sports & life skills. Why do they think it's OK to be using physical violence & spewing racist ideology against these young men.
As if penn state hasn't had their share of 'problems' with coaching behaviors in the past. C'mon man.
Def NOT a motivating tool. The big10 is a joke. Look at what has happened a the ohio state, michigan state, michigan, ioway, etc., etc., etc.
Sad. Criminal too.