Imus called women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos"


On the April 4 edition of MSNBC's Imus in the Morning, host Don Imus referred to the Rutgers University women's basketball team, which is comprised of eight African-American and two white players, as "nappy-headed hos" immediately after the show's executive producer, Bernard McGuirk, called the team "hard-core hos." Later, former Imus sports announcer Sid Rosenberg, who was filling in for sportscaster Chris Carlin, said: "The more I look at Rutgers, they look exactly like the [National Basketball Association's] Toronto Raptors."

McGuirk referred to the NCAA women's basketball championship game between Rutgers and Tennessee as a "Spike Lee thing," adding, "The Jigaboos vs. The Wannabees -- that movie that he had." McGuirk was presumably referring to Lee's 1988 film, School Daze (Sony Pictures), though co-host Charles McCord misidentified it as "Do the Right Thing" (Criterion, June 1989).

In a June 2, 1991, review of Lee's Jungle Fever (Universal Pictures), The New York Times described the rivalry depicted in School Daze:

"School Daze," his 1988 satire on an all-black college similar to his own alma mater, Morehouse, turned the friction centered on color into a pointed burlesque. The college's women divided into two camps, the dark "Jigaboos" and the fair "Wannabees," who taunted each other in one scene with the epithets "pickaninny," "Barbie doll," "tar baby" and "high-yellow heifer."

Rosenberg's comparison of the Rutgers women's basketball team to the Raptors recalled comments he made in June 2001 about Venus and Serena Williams, two African-American female professional tennis players. According to a November 20, 2001, Newsday article, Rosenberg said on the air: "One time, a friend, he says to me, 'Listen, one of these days you're gonna see Venus and Serena Williams in Playboy.' I said, 'You've got a better shot at National Geographic.' " Rosenberg also referred to Venus Williams as an "animal." Media Matters for America noted those comments when Rosenberg alluded to them on the March 28 edition of Imus.

Also, on the March 30 edition of Public Broadcasting Service's The Charlie Rose Show, regarding the NCAA "March Madness" basketball tournament, host Charlie Rose asked CBS sportscaster Billy Packer: "Do you need a runner this Final Four? Because I could jump on a plane and I could be there." Packer replied: "You always fag out on that one for me. ... [Y]ou always say, 'Oh yeah, I'm going to be the runner,' then you never show up."

In 2000, as noted by an article on, Packer made comments that were viewed as disparaging to women, when he said, "Since when do we let women control who gets into a men's basketball game? Why don't you go find a women's game to let people into?" Also, as noted in a March 4, 1996, article in The Washington Post, Packer "describ[ed] Georgetown guard Allen Iverson as a 'tough monkey' during the Hoyas' nationally televised game against Villanova" during that year's NCAA tournament. Packer later apologized for both comments.

From the April 4 edition of MSNBC's Imus in the Morning:

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.

IMUS: Yeah.

McGUIRK: The Jigaboos vs. the Wannabes -- that movie that he had.

IMUS: Yeah, it was a tough --

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.

IMUS: Well, I guess, yeah.

RUFFINO: Only tougher.

McGUIRK: The [Memphis] Grizzlies would be more appropriate.

From the March 30 edition of PBS' Charlie Rose:

ROSE: Do you need a runner this Final Four? Because I could jump on a plane, and I could be there.

PACKER: You always fag out on that one for me. You know, you never -- you know, you always say, "Oh yeah, I'm going to be the runner," then you never show up. But I'm sure they can find a place for you. You've got all the connections in the world. You can go ahead and be a runner any place you want to.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Gender, Race & Ethnicity
Don Imus
Imus in the Morning
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