You’ll see it written in some places that they’re “searching for answers” or that they are “confused.” But in all honesty, Penn State’s basketball players sound as if they’re pretty pissed off about what happened to Patrick Chambers.
Several Nittany Lion players spoke via Zoom on media day Wednesday, and they were very candid. As is often the case when dealing with athletes, if given the chance to express their true feelings, they oblige and give raw, honest answers, as opposed to coaches or administrators who have to play the politically correct game.
“No, I’m not at peace with it,” junior guard Myles Dread said. “And I will not be at peace with it until everybody has answers as to why.”
At this point, we don’t know for sure exactly why Chambers resigned under pressure Oct. 21. We know that there was a racial issue with him saying the word “noose” to a former player, and we know there was at least one other investigation into his behavior, the results of which have not been made public.
Those results apparently haven’t been told the Penn State players, either, by a school that has chosen to completely leave the players in the dark about what happened.
It makes perfect sense, then, that those players still feel pretty raw about it.
“It felt like being stabbed in the chest,” junior guard Myreon Jones said of finding out about Chambers’ resignation last month.
“It was very emotional,” sophomore forward Seth Lundy said.
He went on to add that was “just a bad day for the program.”
Dread called it a “very emotional” time, having known Chambers for nearly six years and still believing in his former coach.
“I felt a very strong emotion, just not really knowing, not really having the full feeling of, wow, he’s not my coach anymore,” Dread said.
“It was shocking and very upsetting for everybody on our staff and in our program. He was very loved, and he is still very loved and appreciated.”
Clearly, there’s a big disconnect here somewhere between the school and the players. Penn State officials probably feel it’s in no one’s best interests to share whatever dirty laundry they found out about Chambers, while the players who are left and will have to be the backbone of the basketball program feel they deserve to know why decisions were made that led everyone down this path.
Senior guard Jamari Wheeler came prepared with a statement that he read about Chambers.
“We miss (him) a lot. We wish he was here, still battling with us, helping us through this season,” Wheeler said. “But unfortunately, some circumstances won’t allow him to be here with us. We’re still confused and don’t understand how that happened.”
As Wheeler tried to give more insight into the situation, he was cut off and discouraged from doing so.
“Before (Chambers resigned) we had a meeting with a couple of people on the staff at Penn State. … We just felt a vibe. So me and a couple of guys on the team had a private meeting with a couple of (administration people) and was told that everything was good.”
That’s when Wheeler was interrupted by a PSU communications staff member, and that was the end of that particular line of discussion.
Wheeler, a Black player from Florida, discounts any notion that Chambers may have had racism issues. That has been a lot of the talk over the past month, in large part because of the coach using the word “noose” to Rasir Bolton, who subsequently transferred to Iowa State.
“I’ve been here four years,” Wheeler said, “a Black athlete that plays for him that’s all the way from Florida. I didn’t get questioned not one time, ‘Was Coach racist?'”
There also was an incident a couple of years ago in which Chambers pushed Dread during a timeout. Chambers was suspended one game for that incident, which is sort of looked at as “strike one” for him, with the Bolton situation being “strike two” and whatever the latest investigation found out being the final strike.
“I believe that that was blown completely out of proportion,” Dread said of the push. “The situation was handled, and it was handled extremely fast. Coach Chambers dealt with it with the administration. And then after that for it to come back up again was absolutely unnecessary and uncalled for.”
Will we ever know exactly what happened with Chambers involving the last investigation? The guess here is that, yes, at some point there will be someone who speaks out about it and provides some level of insight or closure into the matter.
But right now, there is no closure for the current Penn State players.
They’re pissed off, and likely will remain that way until they get answers, explanations or some truth about what and why and how it all went down.