Five months after Don Imus put the national spotlight on Rutgers University for calling their women’s basketball players “nappy-headed hos,” the New Jersey school has once again had its racial tensions roiled—this time from within.
In a New York Times article about Rutgers emerging as a major powerhouse in Division-I athletics, tenured English professor William Dowling rejected the notion that the surge will give opportunities to less fortunate students. “If you were giving the scholarship to an intellectually brilliant kid who happens to play a sport, that’s fine,” Dowling said. “But they give it to a functional illiterate who can’t read a cereal box, and then make him spend 50 hours a week on physical skills. That’s not opportunity. If you want to give financial help to minorities, go find the ones who are at the library after school.” Wow. Why don’t you tell us what you really think, Professor Dowling?
Rutgers Athletic Director Bob Mulcahy called Dowling’s comment “a blatantly racist statement,” and Rutgers President Richard McCormick labeled it “inaccurate and inhumane…[and] it also has a racist implication that has no place whatsoever in our civil discourse,” but Dowling stood by his comments. “If someone has a way to answer that question without mentioning race,
I would like to hear it,” he responded. “[Mulcay's and McCormick's responses are] the cheapest
rhetorical ploy I’ve ever heard.” The university has not made a decision about whether or not to discipline Dowling.