The timing could not have been worse for new Penn State basketball coach Pat Chambers' first regular-season teleconference with the media. But it couldn't be avoided, either.
The Nittany Lions open the Chambers Era against Hartford at the Jordan Center Saturday afternoon.
Thursday, though, Chambers found himself answering more questions about the Jerry Sandusky scandal that has rocked Happy Valley, leading to head football coach Joe Paterno, school president Graham Spanier and athletic director Tim Curley all losing their jobs. Curley hired Chambers.
Chambers was candid when asked about the situation.
It's disturbing, he said. I'm a father.
Sandusky, a former PSU football assistant coach, stands accused of sexually assaulting eight boys. Curley faces a perjury charge for allegedly lying to the grand jury investigating the Sandusky case. Paterno and Spanier have not been charged with anything but have drawn criticism for not reacting properly upon being told of an alleged incident between Sandusky and a boy.
Though he has only been on campus since June, when he replaced the departed Ed DeChellis, Chambers has a long background with Penn State. Three of his older siblings are PSU grads.
I grew up a Penn State football fan, he said.
As such, the events that have unfolded in the past week — not to mention the thoughts of Sandusky's alleged victims — have been troubling to the new basketball coach and his players.
We're going through some tough times, he said. We just have to stay positive and stick together.
We're all very emotional right now. I don't think anyone has ever seen anything like this.
The team focus between now and the Hartford game is to try to get some normalcy back, Chambers said.
It is probably too early to tell what sort of long-term impact the Sandusky scandal will have on other sports at Penn State. But Chambers viewed Wednesday's signing of 6-foot-8, 235-pound Brandon Taylor from Tabernacle, N.J., as a good sign on that front.
That was reassuring to me, he said. (Recruits) are about Penn State and great academics and what this university has done for years and years and years.
With everything swirling at PSU this week, he has told prospects slated to visit Saturday, We'd love to have you, but we understand if you can't make it. He added that the staff is zeroed in on the class of 2013 recruits now, anyway, so there is no rush to get them on campus.
There is a bit if a rush to prepare the team not only for Hartford, but also for an opening run that features five games in eight days.
Considering the Hartford game in the Jordan Center (4:30 p.m. tip) will be played after the Nittany Lion football squad faces Nebraska at Beaver Stadium earlier in the day, what sort of crowd does he expect?
I have no idea, Chambers said. I'm hopeful for a good crowd; that Penn State pride will come through. But I don't know.