With the season opener a week away, Penn State Men's Basketball held its first press availability of the season Wednesday. The main topic was the resignation of head coach Patrick Chambers in mid-October.
Athletic director Sandy Barbour essentially refused to address why Penn State dismissed Chambers at her brief media availability the evening the news broke and seems content to let the media connect his departure to the situation with Rasir Bolton from the 2018-19 season, which was reported on this past summer. While Barbour did clarify that Chambers was not dismissed due to anything related to Bolton, she did not comment any further about the investigation and what it revealed.
Ben Jones of StateCollege.com, as well as Evan Patrick and Justin Morganstein of The Daily Collegian, relayed some of the quotes that emerged from those who joined the video conference at Media Day. Izaiah Brockington, Jamari Wheeler, Myles Dread, John Harrar, and Seth Lundy all spoke and seemed to echo the same sentiments. You can check the Twitter feeds of each of them at the links above, but Dread seemed to sum the team's thoughts up most succinctly:
Myles Dread on Chambers' resignation: "I am not at peace with it, I will not be at peace with it until everyone has answers as to why."— Evan Patrick (@evan7patrick) November 18, 2020
If Barbour's hope had been that the program and its players would accept it and move on, she badly miscalculated. Most of the press availability Wednesday afternoon was dedicated to current players talking about their love for Chambers and their frustration with the athletic department for being evasive, if not outright deceptive.
Jamari Wheeler cut off retelling the whole story but was on his way to saying Penn State told him and other players that everything was fine prior to Chambers' departure.— Ben Jones (@Ben_Jones88) November 18, 2020
Barbour handled the situation about as poorly as possible, both in terms of the timing as well as the refusal to explain what happened. Our basketball crew discussed this on Roar Lions Radio with Sam Cooper of Yahoo Sports a few weeks ago, and there is serious concern that her handling of it will make it even harder to find a replacement head coach. If there was any thought that fans and observers were overreacting in thinking that Barbour handled it in the wrong way, there is no doubt about it after hearing from the players themselves.
The feeling seems to be shared by former star Lamar Stevens, who is preparing for tonight's NBA Draft with Chambers himself.
Interim head coach Jim Ferry and the Nittany Lions will open their season Wednesday, November 25 against Drexel.