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Last Updated: Friday, 13 April 2007, 22:36 GMT 23:36 UK
Team accepts DJ's racism apology
Rutgers coach C Vivian Stringer
The Rutgers team hopes the row will be a catalyst for change
The women's basketball team at the centre of a row over broadcaster Don Imus has accepted his apology for his use of racist language about them.

Mr Imus met the Rutgers team late on Thursday, hours after he was dismissed by US television and radio network CBS.

Their coach said the team was "in the process of forgiving" and hoped the row would be a catalyst for change.

Mr Imus had called the mostly black members of the Rutgers University team "nappy-headed hos" on his radio show.

"Ho" is slang for prostitute and "nappy-headed" is a term used to describe the hair of some black people.

'Forgiving process'

The row over the remarks culminated in the dismissal of Mr Imus, known as a controversial "shock jock", despite his repeated public apologies.

These comments are indicative of greater ills in our culture
C Vivian Stringer
Rutgers coach

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Friday his comments had been "disgusting" and Mr Imus deserved to lose his job.

"I'm very glad that there was, in fact, a consequence," Ms Rice said.

"I think that this kind of coarse language doesn't belong anywhere in reasonable dialogue between reasonable people," she said.

Mr Imus and his wife Deirdre met the Rutgers team at the mansion of New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, who is critically ill after being involved in a car crash on his way to the meeting.

Reading from a statement on Friday, coach C Vivian Stringer said the team accepted Mr Imus' personal apology and were "in the process of forgiving".

"We still find his statements to be unacceptable, and this is an experience that we will never forget," she said.

"These comments are indicative of greater ills in our culture. It is not just Mr Imus, and we hope that this will be and serve as a catalyst for change.

"Let us continue to work hard to together to make this world a better place."

'Hate e-mail

Mrs Imus, who co-hosted an annual charity radio show in her husband's place on Friday, said that he "feels awful".

Don Imus leaves his home in New York, 12 April 2007
Don Imus made repeated public apologies but still lost his job

"He asked them: I want to know the pain I caused, and I want to know how to fix this and change this," she said.

Mrs Imus said some of the Rutgers team had been receiving hate e-mail and she demanded that it stop.

"If you must send e-mail, send it to my husband," she said, adding that the Rutgers team members were "unbelievably courageous and beautiful women".

Civil rights leaders the Rev Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who had been calling for Mr Imus to be fired, welcomed his dismissal.

Contracts dropped

CBS head Leslie Moonves told CBS staff in a memo that the decision to fire Mr Imus was an attempt to root out a culture of permissiveness that allowed people to be demeaned.

US cable TV company MSNBC said on Wednesday it was dropping its simulcast of Mr Imus's programme.

Several major companies had decided to cancel advertising contracts, and a number of high-profile guests said they would no longer appear on his show.

Mr Imus's show was worth about $15m (7.6m) annually to CBS through advertising and syndication fees, said Associated Press news agency.

It had about 3.5 million listeners a week in 2005, according to media research, and the MSNBC simulcast was estimated to draw about 330,000 viewers per week.

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