Imus was fired
from his radio show by CBS on Thursday afternoon. That evening he kept his
commitment to meet with the Scarlet Knights at Drumthwacket, the governor's
mansion in Princeton. In addition to Stringer and the players, the Rutgers
contingent included four parents and two grandparents and an aunt of the
players, as well as the Reverend DeForest (Buster) Soaries, Stringer's pastor.
Imus and his wife, Deirdre, got there first. Upon the team's arrival, at about
7:30 p.m., the players were taken into a dining room, where they were served
sandwiches and told about the serious car accident that Corzine had been in on
his way to the meeting. (He remained in critical condition on Monday, but his
injuries are not life-threatening.) They took the sandwiches into the room
where the Imuses were waiting. The chairs and sofas were arranged in a circle,
and everyone sat down without shaking hands or making small talk. Imus and
Stringer sat on either side of Soaries, who took Corzine's place as
first, then Imus. By turns, each player said her name, hometown and career
aspiration. Then they addressed Imus with questions, including "Why
us?" They told him that because of him, they'd never had the chance to
revel in their remarkable season. Brann told him about how the team had lost
four of its first six games and suffered a 40-point defeat against Duke.
(Stringer had locked them out of their locker room for all of January and taken
away their Rutgers-issued practice gear because she felt they hadn't earned it.
The five freshmen on the team had been so discouraged that they sat around
arguing about which one of them their coach hated most.) Even though the
Scarlet Knights began to play much better, UConn pounded them by 26, on
Rutgers's home floor, in the season finale. Then the Big East tournament
started, and Rutgers put together the most magical—and unexpected—run of
Stringer's 36-year career.
then talked about his philanthropy work. Deirdre Imus, who later called
Stringer and the players "unbelievably courageous and beautiful," cried
as they talked and hugged each of them afterward. After three hours the Imuses
left, but the Scarlet Knights stayed inside for another hour. The next morning
Stringer announced that her team had accepted Imus's apology and wanted to move
on. Although they have been reluctant to discuss the meeting in detail and say
they prefer to let Stringer's statement be their final comment on the matter,
the players feel that all the dialogue a bout race and gender caused by the
case, however overheated some of it became, has been worthwhile. "From the
moment the words were said, it became about more than us," says Carson.
"If I were to be a pawn, I'd rather be a pawn for change than just a pawn
for a basketball factory."
statement at the press conference, Carson had surveyed the assembled media and
pointedly asked, "Where were these major networks when we were making
history [on the court] for a prestigious university?" All nine of her
teammates will be back next season, and Rutgers will be considered a top title
contender. The Scarlet Knights open their season at George Washington on Nov.
18, and you can bet the cameras will be there for at least one game.