Iowa State guard Rasir Bolton said Monday on social media that he left the Penn State program because of racially tinged comments, including one regarding "a noose around my neck," from coach Pat Chambers.
"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," Bolton wrote in the statement. "Due to other interactions with Coach, I knew this was no slip of the tongue."
He transferred after his freshman season with the Nittany Lions, in which he averaged 11.6 points in 26.9 minutes per game. The NCAA granted a waiver to allow Bolton to play immediately for the Cyclones and he became a key contributor, averaging 14.7 points in 30 games, all starts.
In a statement issued later Monday morning, Chambers acknowledged he made inappropriate remarks to Bolton.
"I've 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," Chambers wrote. "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."
In his lengthy statement, Bolton outlined the steps he and his family took in the aftermath of Chambers' comments. He said he told his academic adviser, confronted Chambers and spoke with officials in the athletic department. His parents drove from their home in Virginia to meet with Chambers and others.
"During this time, coach Chambers admitted to what he said," Bolton wrote. He said the coach didn't apologize while Bolton was on the team and invoked "subtle repercussions" toward the guard.
Bolton's message comes amid rising social activism from student-athletes nationwide in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a Black man, after he was restrained by a white police officer in Minneapolis in May.
Sandy Barbour, Penn State's vice president of intercollegiate athletics, addressed the situation on Monday and said her department will work toward equality and inclusivity for all student-athletes.
"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 wrote. "It is our obligation to embrace all in our community regardless of differences -- the color of their skin, their ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or gender should not matter.
She continued: "Our community of student-athletes, staff and coaches is stronger because of the diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives they all bring to our competitive venues and classrooms. As leaders, our coaches must model the values of our institution and I remain steadfast in continuing to strengthen the culture of acceptance within our Penn State Athletics Department."
Chambers, 49, has been Penn State's head coach since 2011. He has a 148-150 record with the Nittany Lions.
--Field Level Media