Penn State basketball coach working to boost small crowds

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The thinning hair that usually rests on the head of Patrick Chambers has vanished completely. He shaved it for charity.

"No hair, don't care," he said, stating the title of a popular State College fundraiser.

The Penn State men's basketball coach wore sneakers last month for Coaches vs. Cancer and represented the charity at a golf tournament last summer even though surgery on his knee kept him in a wheelchair. So the man knows how to give and likes to give.

And tonight, he's reaching a little further. Chambers has pledged to give $10 for each student who comes to Penn State's game against Iowa to THON, which raises money to combat pediatric cancer.

With this latest gesture, Chambers has combined two of the major roles he's known for: respectable philanthropist and master promoter.

Say what you will about Penn State basketball's less-than-ideal win/loss record and even less-than-ideal attendance, Chambers has tried to excite the fans. He acknowledges that winning is the best way but that hasn't stopped him from encouraging students through other avenues.

He has dressed like football player Mike Mauti, taught class, led pep rallies and paid for season tickets for several students who waited in line to buy them this fall.

"I've done everything that has been asked of me and then some," he said.

Student attendance -- and attendance overall -- has been sparse at most Penn State games this season. Although Penn State doesn't generally keep an exact count of students, a spokesperson said the largest student crowd they had so far this year was 2,000 against Nebraska. He said the record was 6,000 for the 2011 senior day game for star Talor Battle.

Chambers said THON impressed him last year, and he knows the Penn State students are trying to reach the $11 million mark this year. He wants a large crowd and a large donation.

"It would be great," he said.

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Mark Dent: and Twitter @mdent05. First Published February 14, 2013 5:00 AM


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