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College basketball star Rasir Bolton said he left Penn State over coach's 'noose' comment

"There is a serious need for change in the way players are protected and helped," Bolton, now at Iowa State, said of the incident with coach Patrick Chambers.
Rasir Bolton
Iowa State guard Rasir Bolton shoots during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas Tech on Feb. 22, 2020, in Ames, Iowa.Charlie Neibergall / AP file

Former Penn State basketball player Rasir Bolton said he transferred from the Pennsylvania university after head coach Patrick Chambers made a comment about a noose.

"For the past year, many have questioned why I left Penn State after my freshman year. I was a scholarship athlete on the Men's Basketball team, I got playing time, I started part of the season and I was on the Dean's List. I formed many relationships at Penn State that I still maintain today," the athlete wrote in a lengthy Twitter statement Monday.

"However, no one ever stops to consider that there is more to a college athlete than the sport. We are human, we are young men and women, and in my case, I am a young black man FIRST."

Bolton told The Undefeated that the noose comment was made following a game loss in January 2019. Chambers was talking to Bolton about how he could help relieve some of the stress the athlete was under and said, “I want to loosen the noose that’s around your neck," the outlet reported.

Bolton wrote on Twitter that he confronted Chambers about the remark and reported it to his academic advisor.

Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Pat Chambers during a Big Ten Tournament game between the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Minnesota Golden Gophers on March 14, 2019 in Chicago.Robin Alam / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images file

"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," he said.

The athlete, who is now a guard at Iowa State, criticized Penn State's response and said there were repercussions for speaking out.

"Some teammates were told I couldn't be trusted and I was told the team didn't trust me; I wasn't 'all in' and 'loyal.' Because I stood up for myself? During my final player/coach meeting in April 2019, Coach Chambers told me he was 'really impressed with how well spoken and organized my parents were.' Yeah, another subtle insult," Bolton wrote.

"There is a serious need for change in the way players are protected and helped across the country when faced with these situations. 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."

Chambers issued an apology on Monday.

"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," he said in a statement.

"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," he added.

Sandy Barbour, Penn State vice president for Intercollegiate Athletics, said they are implementing a number of changes including establishing a team to address concerns and providing educational opportunities to athletes.