Penn State’s men’s basketball program elevated assistant Jim Ferry to interim head coach last week after the resignation of nine-year Nittany Lions coach Pat Chambers.
Ferry joined Chambers’ staff in 2017 after a five-season stint as head coach at Duquesne, where he compiled a 60–97 overall record. Duquesne fired Ferry in early 2017.
Before arriving at Duquesne, Ferry had head coaching stops at Long Island (150-149), Adelphi (82-11) and Plymouth State (22-8).
Ferry guided Long Island to NCAA Tournament berths in 2011 and 2012, his last two seasons with the program.
“His offensive abilities, his desire to push the pace of the game, suits the players they have,” Big Ten Network analyst and Sporting News basketball writer Mike DeCourcy said. “They don’t have the kind of size and versatility in the frontcourt that they had with Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins, but with the guard play that they have, I think at the very least he’ll give them a fighting chance once he’s able to get them going in the direction and understanding that he’s the man in charge.”
Chambers’ resignation followed an investigation that stemmed from a July report from ESPN’s The Undefeated in which former Penn State player Rasir Bolton shared he transferred from the program after Chambers made a racially insensitive remark.
Barbour said the program learned of an additional allegation as a result of the investigation.
Bolton is now at Iowa State.
“A noose around my neck is why I left Penn State,” Bolton tweeted in July. “Head Coach Patrick Chambers, the day after his one-game suspension in January 2019, in talking to me referenced a “noose” around my neck. 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. Due to other interactions with Coach, I knew this was no slip of the tongue.”
Penn State went 21-10 under Chambers last season and secured a No. 4 seed in the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament. The Nittany Lions’ conference tournament game was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Penn State was considered a lock to receive its first NCAA Tournament berth since the 2011 season before COVID-19 concerns influenced NCAA officials to cancel all sporting events in the spring.
Chambers compiled a 148-150 overall record during his nine years with Penn State. He guided the Nittany Lions to a 26-13 finish during a 2017-18 season that saw Penn State win the NIT championship.
“Coach Chambers has many current and former players who have been glowing in their praise of him, and our current players, many of them have very good relationships with him and he’s the one who has given them this opportunity,” Penn State vice president for intercollegiate athletics Sandy Barbour said. “So they’re in a little bit of shock, and they’re very disappointed.”
Barbour said the program will cast a wide net when seeking Chambers’ replacement.
“We’ll do a national search — that’s what we always do for head coaches here at Penn State,” Barbour said. “But I would love to see Coach Ferry have our program have the kind of success this season that would give Coach Ferry a shot.”