Penn State basketball fans received stunning news on Wednesday evening when head coach Pat Chambers suddenly resigned. Not only was Chambers coming off his most successful year at PSU in which he led the Nittany Lions to what would have been an NCAA Tournament berth if not for COVID-19, but we’re just one month away from the start of the new season. In a vacuum, the timing made no sense.
Little did I know that there was an ongoing investigation stemming from Chambers’s racially insensitive comments that he made to former player Rasir Bolton more than a year ago. The incident came to light publicly in July and I wrote back then that Chambers should retain his job.
And that should be the end of the matter. Chambers made a mistake and it cost him a talented basketball player. Bolton used his right to transfer and is in a place where he feels more welcome. But what if it’s not the end? It wouldn’t be beyond the media to pressure Penn State to make a change and reverse the progress that Chambers has made with this program over the years. All for a mistake that Chambers says he will learn from.
According to Penn State, an internal investigation yielded “new allegations of inappropriate conduct” that led to Chambers resigning.
I’d love to know what these new allegations are because Chambers had been the coach for 10 years and had the support of veteran players like Lamar Stevens and Jamari Wheeler. What happened with Bolton was a misstep, and it should have been handled better, but Chambers deserved the chance to learn from his mistake and continue forward with a program that he had slowly built into a tournament contender.
Instead, Penn State has decided to start over and probably won’t have a new full-time head coach until 2021. The players that Chambers recruited are stuck without a coach and the program that showed so much promise last season is back at square one. Plus, PSU has already shown that it won’t pay a veteran coach who produce result quickly. Chambers wasn’t even making $1 million per year, so we’re probably looking at another mid-major coach who will take time to prove himself and get enough talent to seriously compete in the Big Ten.
Or maybe Penn State will just stick with interim head coach Jim Ferry, who has previous experience as head coach of Duquesne and LIU Brooklyn. That’s pretty much the experience that athletic director Sandy Barbour would look for anyway. Maybe Sandy will surprise me, though.
Penn State fans deserve to know why their school just nuked the basketball program. Will someone come forward and tell us what the new allegations are? Or will we be left to wonder if Penn State forced Chambers to resign due to fear of public backlash? Penn State is such a low-profile program that I’m not sure anyone will care to uncover the truth, and that’s sad considering how great of a coach Chambers was to so many student-athletes.