Iowa State guard Bolton says “noose” remark led to transfer from Penn State

Iowa State guard Rasir Bolton (45) during an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma...
Iowa State guard Rasir Bolton (45) during an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020.(Sue Ogrocki | AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Published: Jul. 6, 2020 at 3:53 PM CDT
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AMES, Iowa (KCRG) - An Iowa State University basketball player explained the reasoning behind his decision to transfer to the school from Penn State University in 2019, saying his former coach used racially-insensitive language when speaking with him following disciplinary action.

Rasir Bolton, a junior guard for the Cyclones’ men’s basketball team, posted on his Twitter account about the incident and other experiences at Penn State which he said guided his decision to leave the school. Bolton said that head coach Pat Chambers used a phrase describing a metaphorical noose around his neck after he was suspended for one game in January 2019. Noose imagery, as Bolton points out, is strongly associated with persecution and lynching of Black Americans during and after the time of slavery in the United States.

“Due to other interactions with Coach, I knew this was no slip of the tongue,” Bolton wrote in the tweet.

Bolton said that he took his concerns about the remark to his adviser, Chambers himself, and athletic director Sandy Barbour. He said that chambers admitted to making the remark but did not apologize at the time. Bolton said that the school also gave him the phone number of a psychologist to contact and “ways to deal with Coach Chambers’ personality type.”

Bolton wrote that, in a meeting with Chambers in April 2019, the coach called his parents well-spoken and organized following a meeting with them and university staff, which he said was “another subtle insult.”

According to the post, Bolton’s teammates were told that he was untrustworthy personally and to the team.

Chambers issued a statement on his Twitter account almost two hours later on Monday, apologizing to Bolton and his family for “hurtful, insensitive, and unacceptable” comments that he made.

“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 the statement.

Barbour issued a statement that was posted to the Penn State athletics department Twitter account nearly simultaneously as Chambers', pledging changes going forward and listing some initial steps to improve the experience for students of different races at the school.

“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 said, in the statement.

Bolton indicated in his post that he believes the power structure in collegiate athletics is set up to cover for the school and its athletics department, not the student-athletes who comprise the teams.

“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,” Bolton said. “In most cases it is the Coach who is protected, while the player is left to deal with it or leave.”

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