NEW YORK – Syndicated talk-radio personality Don Imus apologized Friday for calling members of the Rutgers University women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos" during a segment yesterday in his "Imus in the Morning" show.
Imus and his producer and on-air sidekick, Bernard McGuirk, went on to further attack the black members of the team, calling them "jigaboos and wannabees."
In his apology, Imus called his comments "insensitive and ill-conceived."
"It was completely inappropriate, and we can understand why people were offended," he told listeners at the opening of his broadcast Friday morning.
He further called the comments "thoughtless and stupid" and said, "We're sorry."
The apology came after Imus initially brushed aside criticism, telling The New York Times "not to worry about some idiot saying something meant to be amusing."
Rutgers officials issued this statement: "We agree with Mr. Imus that this was, in his own words, an 'idiot comment.' We are very proud of the success of the Rutgers women's basketball team. Coach Stringer and the Rutgers players are outstanding ambassadors for this great institution."
Shortly after Imus made his comments about the Rutgers team, MSNBC released the following statement: "While simulcast by MSNBC, 'Imus in the Morning' is not a production of the cable network and is produced by WFAN Radio. 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."
The comments drew immediate outrage from the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), which had called for a boycott of Imus' show until he issued a "sincere and unequivocal apology," referring to him as a "sophomoric host."
"Has he lost his mind?" asked NABJ President Bryan Monroe, vice president and editorial director for Ebony and Jet magazines in Chicago. "Those comments were beyond offensive. Imus needs to be fired. Today."
The veteran talk-jock's remarks came during a discussion — that included WFAN show host Sid Rosenberg, McGuirk and show regular Charles McCord — about Rutgers' loss to Tennessee, 59-46, Tuesday night in the NCAA Women's Basketball Finals.
Imus: So, I watched the basketball game last night between — a little bit of Rutgers and Tennessee, the women's final.
Rosenberg: Yeah, Tennessee won last night — seventh championship for [Tennessee coach] Pat Summitt, I-Man. They beat Rutgers by 13 points.
Imus: That's some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos and —
McGuirk: Some hard-core hos.
Imus: That's some nappy-headed hos there. I'm gonna tell you that now, man, that's some — woo. And the girls from Tennessee, they all look cute, you know, so, like — kinda like — I don't know.
McGuirk: A Spike Lee thing.
McGuirk: The Jigaboos vs. the Wannabes — that movie that he had.
Imus: Yeah, it was a tough —
Charles McCord: Do The Right Thing.
McGuirk: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Imus: I don't know if I'd have wanted to beat Rutgers or not, but they did, right?
Rosenberg: It was a tough watch. The more I look at Rutgers, they look exactly like the Toronto Raptors.
"She won't look so pretty when she's bald with one [breast]," Rosenberg said on air.
Each time, Imus rehired Rosenberg following on-air apologies.