Appalled Rutgers players agree to meet with Imus
REBECCA SANTANA, AP, Trentonian.com, April 11, 2007
The Rutgers University womenís basketball team blasted radio
host Don Imus yesterday for making "sexist remarks that are
deplorable, despicable and abominable" but agreed to meet with
the embattled radio host.
Starting Monday, Imus will be suspended for two weeks for
calling the Rutgers players "nappy-headed hos."
Rutgers players, who had not spoken publicly until yesterday,
called his comments insensitive and hurtful. However, they
said they were reserving judgment on whether he should be fired
until after they meet with Imus.
Calls for Imusí dismissal have been growing since he made the
remarks about the team April 4, a day after the team lost the
national championship game to Tennessee. The Rev. Jesse
Jackson said Imusí comments contribute to "a climate of
degradation" and stem from a lack of blacks as program hosts.
Rutgersí players and head coach C. Vivian Stringer, along with
several players, said Imusí comments took the luster off an
incredible season. It was the first time the team reached
the national title game.
"The Rutgers university womenís basketball team has made
history," said Essence Carson, a junior forward. "We
havenít done anything to deserve this controversy, and yet it
has taken a toll on us mentally and physically."
Heather Zurich, a sophomore forward, said the teamís "moment was
taken away" by Imus.
"This week and last, we should have celebrating our
accomplishments the past season," she said. "All of our
accomplishments were lost ... we were stripped of this moment by
the degrading comments made by Mr. Imus."
Rutgersí athletic director, Robert E. Mulcahy III, thought a
meeting with Imus would offer the teamís players a chance to
listen to him and hear what he has to say. Several players
said they wanted to ask the host why he would make such
"We all agreed the meeting with Mr. Imus will help," Carson
said. "We do hope to get something accomplished during
Players did not say when or where theyíd meet with Imus.
Yesterday, Dr. DeForest B. Soaries Jr., senior pastor of the
First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, told
MSNBC-TV he would moderate the meeting.
Imus started the firestorm after the Rutgers team, which
includes eight black women, lost the championship game. He
was speaking with producer Bernard McGuirk and said "thatís some
rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos ..."
"Some hardcore hos," McGuirk said.
"Thatís some nappy-headed hos there, Iím going to tell you
that," Imus said.
Imusí comments about the Rutgers players struck a chord, in
part, because it was aimed at a group of young women enjoying
"Unless theyíve given Ďhoí a whole new definition, thatís not
what I am," said sophomore center Kia Vaughn, from the Bronx,
Imus, who has made a career of cranky insults in the morning,
was fighting for his job following the joke that by his own
admission went "way too far."
While acknowledging the severity of his mistake, Imus said he
just hadnít been thinking when he made the comments. He
also said that those who called for his firing without knowing
him, his philanthropic work, or what his show was about would be
making an "ill-informed" choice.
Stringer said her players "are the best this nation has to offer
... young ladies of class, distinction. They are
articulate, they are gifted. They are Godís
representatives in every sense of the word."
She said itís not about the players "as black or nappy-headed.
Itís about us as a people. When there is not equality for
all, or when there has been denied equality for one, there has
been denied equality for all."
In Washington, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino was asked if
President Bush thought Imusí punishment was strong enough.
"The president believed that the apology was the absolute right
thing to do," Perino said yesterday. "And beyond that, I
think that his employer is going to have to make a decision
about any action that they take based on it."
Imusís radio show originates from WFAN in New York City and is
syndicated nationally by Westwood One, both of which are managed
"What I did was make a stupid, idiotic mistake in a comedy
context," Imus said on his show yesterday morning, the final
week before his suspension starts.
The racially charged-remarks from Imus follow a string of recent
racial rants by other celebrities, including the actors Michael
Richards and Mel Gibson incidents.
Imus isnít the most popular radio talk-show host -- the trade
publication Talkers ranks him the 14th-most influential -- but
his audience is heavy on the political and media elite that
advertisers pay a premium to reach.
Imus could be in real danger if the outcry causes advertisers to
shy away from him, said Tom Taylor, editor of the trade
publication Inside Radio.
The National Organization for Women and the National
Association of Black Journalists is also are seeking Imusí
The Rev. Al Sharpton also has also called for Imus to be fired,
saying his two-week suspension was "not nearly enough" and was
"too little, too late." If heís not fired, Sharpton said
presidential candidates and other politicians should also
refrain from going on Imusí show in the future.
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, whose presidential
candidacy has been backed by Imus on the air, has said heíll
still appear on Imusí program.
"He has apologized," McCain said. "Iím a great believer in
New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine, who spoke to Rutgers players
Monday, said he strongly condemned Imusí words but that only the
players could decide if the apology was enough.
While Imus has used his show before to spread insults around --
once calling Colin Powell a "weasel" and another time referring
to New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as a "fat sissy" -- his
comments about the Rutgers women crossed the line, coach
"It is more than the Rutgers womenís basketball team," Stringer
said. "It is all womenís athletes. It is all women."
Associated Press writer David Bauder in New
York City contributed to this report.