White House invited NCAA champions to meet with President Trump – one team has already declined

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AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The White House is set to host college sports championship teams on Friday but one team has declined the invitation from President Trump.

The South Carolina women’s basketball team will not be joining 18 NCAA teams which will be attending a reception at the executive mansion, according to an Associated Press report.

“We did hear from the White House about attending (Friday’s) event, but we will not be able to attend,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said in a statement Thursday, citing the need to “focus” on the upcoming season instead.

“As I’ve been saying since our practices for this season started, all of our focus is on the season ahead. The only invitation we are thinking about is to the 2018 NCAA Tournament,” she said.

South Carolina forward A’ja Wilson (22) holds up the trophy as she celebrates with teammates after their win over Mississippi State in the final of the NCAA women’s Final Four college basketball tournament. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

After winning the National Collegiate Athletic Association title in April, Staley had said the team would go to the White House if invited because “it’s what it stands for. It’s what national champions do.” But in September, she told the Associated Press that an invitation had not been received and “that spoke volumes.”

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The University of North Carolina Tar Heels men’s basketball team had said it was unable to agree with the White House on a date for a visit.

“We couldn’t find a date that worked for both parties,” a spokesman for the team told the Raleigh News & Observer in September. “We tried about eight or nine dates and between they couldn’t work out that date, we couldn’t work out that date, so – we would have liked to have gone, but not going.”

And while the president hosted the Clemson Tigers football team at the White House in June, he has also criticized professional athletes and blasted NFL athletes for kneeling in protest during the national anthem. When  NBA championship-winning Golden State Warriors and star Stephen Curry said his team would probably not wish to meet Trump, the president promptly rescinded the invitation.

“Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!” the president tweeted.

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Frieda Powers

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