NABJ president demands firing of Imus

Updated: April 7, 2007, 9:06 AM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Radio host Don Imus, as well as the radio station that produces his show, apologized Friday for calling the Rutgers University women's basketball team "nappy headed hos" on his nationally syndicated program.

Stringer Responds
C. Vivian Stringer
Stringer

Portions of a statement from Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer:

"I am deeply saddened and angered by Mr. Imus' statements regarding the members of the Rutgers women's basketball team. These talented, articulate young women put forth a great deal of hard work and effort this past season to reach the nation's grandest stage -- the NCAA title game.

"Throughout the year, these gifted young ladies set an example for the nation that through hard work and perseverance, you can accomplish anything if you believe. Without a doubt, this past season was my most rewarding in 36 years of coaching.

"To serve as a joke of Mr. Imus in such an insensitive manner creates a wedge and makes light of the efforts of these classy individuals, both as women and as women of color. It is unfortunate Mr. Imus sought to tarnish Rutgers' spirit and success. Should we not, as adults, send a message of encouragement to young people to aspire to the highest levels as my team did this season?

"It is of the utmost importance to be an inspiration to young people and I truly believe my team represented Rutgers University, the state of New Jersey and NCAA student-athletes across the country in the highest manner. I am proud of these young women and strongly encourage Mr. Imus to instead read the headlines and the stories that told of our triumphs the past six months."

The National Association of Black Journalists demanded his immediate firing after the man known as "Imus in the Morning" put his foot deep in his mouth Wednesday. Imus questioned the players' looks, describing them as tattooed "rough girls." His producer compared the team -- which has eight black members -- to the NBA's Toronto Raptors.

Near the start of Friday's show, Imus said he wanted to "apologize for an insensitive and ill-conceived remark we made the other morning referring to the Rutgers women's basketball team."

"It was completely inappropriate, and we can understand why people were offended. Our characterization was thoughtless and stupid, and we are sorry."

WFAN-AM reiterated those sentiments.

"We are disappointed by Imus' actions earlier this week which we find completely inappropriate,'' the station said in a statement Friday. "We fully agree that a sincere apology was called for and will continue to monitor the program's content going forward."

Gregory Lee, an NABJ officer and senior assistant sports editor at The Boston Globe, said the mea culpa did little to atone for the comments.

"You can apologize, but what does that mean when you have a history of making disparaging remarks about people?" Lee asked about the acid-tongued Imus. "This kind of behavior must be punished. I hope the company and sponsors he has take some sort of action ... to educate him."

NABJ president Bryan Monroe asked Thursday if Imus had "lost his mind" and called for the veteran radio host's dismissal.

Imus was speaking with producer Bernard McGurk when the NCAA title game between Rutgers and Tennessee came up.

"That's some rough girls from Rutgers," Imus said. "Man, they got tattoos ... "

"Some hardcore hos," said McGurk.

"That's some nappy headed hos there, I'm going to tell you that," Imus said.

Imus, a member of the National Broadcasters Hall of Fame and one of the nation's best-known radio voices, is renowned for his caustic style and politically incorrect verbal broadsides. His show is syndicated to millions of listeners at more than 70 stations around the country.

WFAN-AM, the home of Imus' show, declined comment. At MSNBC, where the radio program is simulcast on television, officials offered Imus no support.

"'Imus in the Morning' is not a production of the cable network and is produced by WFAN Radio," said a statement from the network. "As Imus makes clear every day, his views are not those of MSNBC. We regret that his remarks were aired on MSNBC and apologize for these offensive comments."

In a joint statement, NCAA President Myles Brand and Rutgers President Richard McCormick condemned Imus' slur.

"The NCAA and Rutgers University are offended by the insults on MSNBC's Don Imus program toward the 10 young women on the Rutgers basketball team," their statement read. "It is unconscionable that anyone would use the airways to utter such disregard for the dignity of human beings who have accomplished much and deserve great credit."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press