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Rutgers Team Accepts Imus' Apology

The Rutgers women's basketball team accepted radio host Don Imus' apology Friday for insulting them on the air, saying that he deserves a chance to move on, but that they hope the furor his word caused will be a catalyst for change.

"We, the Rutgers University Scarlet Knight basketball team, accept — accept — Mr. Imus' apology, and we are in the process of forgiving," coach C. Vivian Stringer read from a team statement a day after the team met personally with Imus and his wife.

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

"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 together to make this world a better place."

Imus' wife, Deirdre, and long-time Imus sidekick Charles McCord subbed for the fired radio talk show host Friday.

"This remains very much 'Imus In The Morning and 'DI' — it's just not Donald Imus, it's the much better-looking of the Imus duo. It is Deirdre Coleman Imus," McCord said on the air Friday morning.

They took over his radio fundraiser Friday after CBS fired the host for racist remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team.

The fundraising drive netted more than $3 million in pledges and left one charity director in tears, reports CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes.

"To punish him, you're punishing a thousand kids that he has aided every single day," said Lynn Hoffman of the Tomorrow's Children's Fund.

Deirdre Imus described her husband's brief meeting with the Rutgers team the night before and praised the women as "beautiful and courageous."

"They gave us the opportunity to listen to what they had to say and why they're hurting and how awful this is," the author said as she co-hosted the fundraiser for children's charities.

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

"I have to say that these women are unbelievably courageous and beautiful women," she said.

In a strange twist, the man who had suggested the New Jersey governor's mansion as a location for the meeting, Gov. Jon Corzine, was not there. He is in the hospital after a serious car accident on his way back to the mansion.

The two-day radio fundraiser had been scheduled long before Don Imus' on-air description of team members as "nappy-headed hos" set off a national debate about taste and tolerance.

On Wednesday, a week after the remark and after advertisers began pulling their support, MSNBC said it would no longer televise the show. CBS fired Imus Thursday from the radio show that he has hosted for nearly 30 years.

The team's goal was never to get Imus fired, Stringer said. "It's sad for anyone to lose their job," she said.

Deirdre Imus' radio hosting career may be short-lived: Westwood One, which syndicates the "Imus in the Morning" program, notified its affiliates that Boston radio talk show host Mike Barnicle, a frequent guest on "Imus," would take over the timeslot for the next two weeks. His one-hour show normally follows Imus on his home station of WTKK-FM.

Currently a contributor to the Boston Herald, Barnicle is not without controversy himself: He resigned from the Boston Globe in 1998 following questions about the sources of at least two of his columns for that paper.


Imus' troubles have also affected his wife, the founder of a medical center that studies links between cancers and environmental hazards whose book "Green This!" came out this week. Her promotional tour was called off "because of the enormous pressure that Deirdre and her family are under," said Simon & Schuster publicist Victoria Meyer.

The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology in Hackensack, N.J., works to identify and control exposures to environmental hazards that may cause adult and childhood cancers. The Imus Ranch in New Mexico invites children who have been ill to spend time on a working cattle ranch.

The Imus show's charity fundraiser raised more than $2.3 million Thursday and Friday for Tomorrows Children's Fund, CJ Foundation for SIDS and the Imus Ranch, Deirdre Imus said. The annual event has raised more than $40 million since 1990.

Many of those calling to make pledges expressed support for Imus. Some Imus fans considered his punishment harsh, and some went too far.

"If you want to send hate mail, send it to my husband. I mean, don't be sending hate mail to these young women," Deirdre Imus said on the air.

Stringer declined to discuss the hate mail Friday. Rutgers team spokeswoman Stacey Brann said the team had received "two or three e-mails" but had also received "over 600 wonderful e-mails."

The cantankerous Imus, once named one of the 25 Most Influential People in America by Time magazine and a member of the National Broadcasters Hall of Fame, was one of radio's original shock jocks.

He first came to prominence at WGAR Cleveland, a widely-heard clear-channel station, then moved to WNBC-AM in New York in the early 1970s. His humor then was more prankish, with routines such as "10,000 Hamburgers To Go," in which he pretended to be an Army Reserve general placing an order at McDonald's for his troops.

But a mix of cocaine and vodka made him undependable, and WNBC took him off the air. After sobering up, he returned to the air and settled into a mix of highbrow talk about politics and culture, with locker room humor sprinkled in.

When WFAN moved from the 1050 frequency and took over WNBC's 660 AM, the "Imus in the Morning" program stayed in place, the only non-sports programming on the station.

He issued repeated apologies as protests intensified. But it wasn't enough as everyone from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama to Oprah Winfrey joined the criticism.

"You have to be accountable for what you do," the Rev. Al Sharpton said on CBS News' The Early Show Friday. "And the fact that he had done this over and over and apologized before, made that very suspect."

There is speculation that Don Imus' radio career is not yet over.

"There'll be a period of 'Imus Detox,' in which he'll kind of disappear, hope this thing will blow over and kind of go away, and then I think he probably would get picked up someplace else," Syracuse University Professor of Media and Culture Robert Thompson told CBS News Thursday.

One likely possibility is satellite radio, where radio "shock jock" Howard Stern and former National Public Radio "Morning Edition" host Bob Edwards went. Because it does not use standard licensed radio frequencies, satellite radio is not regulated by the government, and more insulated from political pressure.

Losing Imus will be a financial hit to CBS Radio, which also suffered when Stern departed. The program earns about $15 million in annual revenue for CBS, which owns Imus' home radio station, WFAN-AM, and manages Westwood One, the company that syndicates the show nationally WFAN. CBSNews.com is also part of CBS Corp., as is Simon & Schuster.