Penn State men's basketball coach Pat Chambers is stepping down one month before the 2020-21 season. The decision follows an internal investigation into allegations of inappropriate conduct. Chambers came under fire in July for telling a player that he wanted "to loosen the noose" around their neck, but the statement from Penn State referenced new allegations.
"Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour accepted the resignation of head men's basketball coach Pat Chambers today following an internal investigation of new allegations of inappropriate conduct by Chambers," the university confirmed in a press release. "The new allegations surfaced shortly after The Undefeated's article and a review was conducted jointly by Penn State's Affirmative Action and Athletics Integrity offices. Barbour named assistant coach Jim Ferry as the interim head coach for the 2020-21 season. Ferry has 30 years of collegiate coaching experience, including 19 years as a head coach with his most recent stint at Duquesne from 2012-17."
Allegations surfaced in July when former Penn State player Rasir Bolton released a statement on Twitter about his decision to transfer. He said that he made the choice due to an interaction with Chambers. The coach referenced a "noose around his neck" during a conversation with Bolton. Chambers later confirmed that he had used the metaphor and expressed remorse for his decision.
"A 'noose' around my neck is why I left Penn State," Bolton wrote in July. "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."
The Penn State basketball program found success during the 2019-20 season, reaching No. 9 in the Associated Press poll. The program secured wins over ranked conference teams Maryland, Michigan State, Iowa and Ohio State. Penn State was on the cusp of its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2011, but the event did not occur due to a COVID-19-forced cancellation.
In his career, Chambers led the Nittany Lions to a 148-150 record in nine years. However, he failed to reach the NCAA tournament during his tenure. Now he will take a break from coaching after stepping down. Chambers said in a statement that he still plans on coaching for the next "20 years."
"Anyone who has ever coached — especially at this level — knows the exceptional amount of energy and focus it takes to deliver each and every day," Chambers said in a statement. "This has been an incredibly difficult year for me and my family, and we are in need of a break to re-set and chart our path forward. So, I'm taking a step back to prepare myself for the next 20 years. I remain deeply committed to helping student-athletes reach their full potential on and off the court, and I look forward to giving my all for them in my next role."