WNBA To Look Into Sparks GM's Use Of Racial Epithets
WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said the league "will be looking into" a report that L.A. Sparks GM Penny Toler used several racial epithets during the team's semifinals series against the Connecticut Sun. Engelbert said, "We understand the heat of the moment and that the Sparks lost in the semifinals, but we don't condone that kind of language and we'll be reviewing it over the next couple of days" ("OTL," ESPN, 10/3). ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne cited sources as saying that Toler following Sun-Sparks Game 2 entered the team's locker room and "challenged the team with an obscenity-laced speech that also included several racial epithets." Toler "did not dispute the use of the 'N-word' in that speech, but stressed that she never directed it at her players." Toler, who has been the team's GM since '99, said, "By no means did I call my players the N-word. I'm not saying that I couldn't have used it in a context. But it wasn't directed at any of my players." Toler also admitted it was "unfortunate I used that word." Several Sparks players indicated that Toler's speech "made them feel uncomfortable and showed 'total disrespect' as Toler called them 'm-----f-----s' and suggested she'd replace them next year if they got swept." Shelburne noted several former Sparks players "said they'd heard Toler use language like that before" (ESPN.com, 10/3).