Rutgers women receive Wilma Rudolph Courage Award

Updated: October 16, 2007, 8:43 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- Member of the 2006-07 Rutgers women's basketball team were honored Monday night by the Women's Sports Foundation with the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award.

The award is presented annually to a female athlete (or athletes) who exhibits extraordinary courage, surmounts adversity, contributes to sports and inspires others. Past recipients include Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Martina Navratilova and Michelle Akers.

The Scarlet Knights won 27 games last season en route to the Big East championship and the women's NCAA final in April, where they lost to Tennessee.

The team had just played in the NCAA championship game when nationally syndicated radio host Don Imus insulted the players on the air. The statement outraged listeners and set off a national debate about taste and tolerance and led to Imus' firing by CBS.

The following week, Rutgers accepted an apology from Imus, saying that he deserved a chance to move on but that they hope the furor his words caused will be a catalyst for change.

Monday night at the Waldorf Astoria, Rutgers senior guard Essence Carson accepted the Wilma Rudolph award as her teammates looked on.

"Looking back at our storybook season, we recognized the many hardships and times of tribulation we overcame," Carson said. "Once we wrote our final chapter, our book was reopened to again begin to tell a story; however, this time we stood together, as a team, to take on the social inequalities of our nation.

"We thank the sport of basketball for bringing 10 young women together. We thank society for making us aware. We thank the media for allowing America to hear our story. We thank the Women's Sports Foundation for what it has done for women in sports for the past 30 years and this honor tonight. Lastly, we thank God for making us women."

Rutgers opens the upcoming season Nov. 11 at home against defending Pac-10 champion Stanford.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.