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MSNBC pulls 'Imus in the Morning'

Story Highlights

• TV network will no longer simulcast "Imus in the Morning"
• CBS Corp. director has called for Don Imus' firing
• More advertisers pull sponsorship from Imus' show
• Women's basketball team will meet with Imus
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- MSNBC has canceled its "Imus in the Morning" simulcast, the network announced Wednesday.

The decision comes after remarks deemed racist and sexist that radio talk-show host Don Imus made last week about the Rutgers University women's basketball team prompted a number of advertisers to drop the program. MSNBC will stop airing the program immediately.

MSNBC announced on Monday a two-week suspension of its simulcast of Imus' show after Imus referred to the Rutgers players as "nappy-headed hos." But as part of an "ongoing review process," which included input from its own employees, NBC Universal decided stronger action was necessary, the company said in a statement. (Gallery: Other controversial comments aired on Imus show)

"What matters to us most is that the men and women of NBC Universal have confidence in the values we have set for this company," the statement said. "This is the only decision that makes that possible."

NBC Universal apologized to the Rutgers team and MSNBC viewers in its statement. (Your e-mails on Imus)

The head coach of the Rutgers women's basketball team, C. Vivian Stringer, told CNN's "The Situation Room" Wednesday that she was "stunned" and "surprised" by MSNBC's move.

"I think that it's probably a victory for the people," said Stringer, who said she was "proud" of corporate executives who "understand that we can do better."

Imus' flagship station in New York, WFAN-AM, which is owned by CBS Radio, has also announced a two-week suspension but has so far not fired Imus.

After the MSNBC announcement, CBS Radio spokeswoman Karen Mateo issued a statement saying that during the suspension, "CBS Radio will continue to speak with all concerned parties and monitor the situation closely."

Earlier Wednesday, a member of CBS Corp.'s board of directors said Imus should be fired.

"As an African-American, I believe that Imus has crossed the line, a very bright line that divides our country," said Bruce Gordon, a CBS director and former president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

"His remarks are so significant that I believe that the right outcome is for him to be terminated."

But Gordon said he feels that the two-week suspension CBS Radio levied against Imus is the "right step" for now.

"It affords management the opportunity to do due diligence and evaluate what this means to the company, the brand and what it stands for," he said, speaking as a board member. "Once due diligence is completed, it is my belief that the facts should determine that he should be terminated."

Sponsors withdraw ads

Gordon's statements came as more big sponsors withdrew their ads from the airing of "Imus in the Morning" on MSNBC.

At least eight companies have pulled their ads from the show, including Staples, General Motors, Sprint Nextel, GlaxoSmithKline, Procter & Gamble, PetMed Express, American Express and Bigelow Tea. (Watch the role of sponsorship money Video)

African-American activists are expected to send a letter to Imus' remaining advertisers demanding they "withdraw sponsorship."

Feminists announced a similar campaign during a rally at Rutgers on Wednesday.

"I'm glad to tell you the feminist movement has delivered 100,000 e-mails, and we're just getting cranked up," said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation.

Rutgers players speak out

Imus "has stolen a moment of pure grace from us," the captain of the Rutgers women's basketball team said Tuesday, responding to the uproar over the radio host's comments.

Essence Carson and other players spoke out at a news conference in their first public statements since Imus' inflammatory remarks. (Players talk of hurt, seeking understanding)

"I would like to express our team's great hurt, anger and disgust toward the words of Mr. Don Imus," Carson said. (Watch as Carson says the issue is "about more than a game of basketball" Video)

Imus' comments came after the underdog team lost the NCAA women's title to the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers. He apologized on Friday and Monday before his suspension.

Other players echoed Carson's reaction, saying Imus' insulting words and the resulting controversy overshadowed their achievements.

On Wednesday morning, Stacy Brann, Rutgers team spokeswoman, said the players will meet with Imus this week. The day and location are still to be determined, she said.

Several players said they would welcome the chance for a face-to-face meeting with Imus.

"I would like to speak to him personally and ... ask him, after you've met me personally, do you still feel in this category that I'm still a 'ho' as a woman and as a black, African-American woman at that?" said Kia Vaughn, a sophomore center.

"I achieve a lot, and unless they have given this name of 'ho' a new definition, then that is not what I am.

Stringer praised the accomplishments and character of the team members, five of whom are freshmen. (Coach builds winners, despite adversity)

"They are young ladies of class, distinction, they are articulate, they are brilliant, they are gifted. They are God's representatives in every sense of the word," she said. (Read Stringer's complete comments)

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Members of the NAACP call for Imus' firing as they protest Tuesday outside NBC headquarters in New York.



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