NCAA Basketball Champs Decline White House Invite

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The NCAA's South Carolina Gamecocks have declined an invitation to meet President Donald Trump at the White House, citing their practice schedule. The women's basketball team had waited months for an invitation.

On Nov. 16, Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley disclosed that her team would not be able to visit the White House for an honorary reception.

"We did hear from the White House about attending tomorrow's event, but we will not be able to attend," Staley said in a statement, according to ESPN. "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."

Trump hosted a number of collegiate sports championship teams on Nov. 17, minus the Gamecocks.

In April, the Gamecocks won the NCAA women's basketball title for the first time. Historically, championship teams in the league had received a White House invite since 1983. On June 8, Staley stated during an interview that she intended to meet with the president.

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"National champions go, and I'm going to go ... We'll give players the option -- if they don't want to go, we're not going to force them to go," Staley told The State. "But I'm going."

Three months later, Staley announced that her team still had not been invited to visit the White House. The coach signaled she believed the Gamecocks were being snubbed.

"We haven't gotten an invitation yet and that speaks volumes," Staley told The Associated Press on Sept. 29. "We won before those other teams won their championships. I don't know what else has to happen."

Staley indicated her enthusiasm for visiting the White House had eroded, stating "some things transpired over the last few months ... I got bigger fish to fry than worry about an invitation."

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On Sept. 30, the office of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced the Gamecocks would receive an invitation to a fall ceremony at the White House. Haley, the former Republican governor of South Carolina, reportedly said she would like to be present when the NCAA champions met with the president.

The Gamecocks finally received their invitation to the White House, but reportedly too late for them to fit the visit into their team schedule. Staley never disclosed what had transpired between June and September that had diminished her enthusiasm for the honor.

On Sept. 23, Trump took to social media to rescind an invitation to the NBA Golden State Warriors after the championship team's star player, Stephen Curry, publicly expressed that he was not interested in meeting the president, The New York Times reports.

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

Cleveland Cavaliers star player LeBron James blasted Trump for his comment.

"U bum," James tweeted in response to the president. "[Stephen Curry] already said he ain't going! So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!"

Sources: APESPN, The New York TimesThe State (2) / Featured Image: Ad Meskens/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: South Carolina Gamecocks/YouTube (2)

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