White House welcomes college champs -- with 2 notable exceptions

By Ed Adamczyk Contact the Author   |  Nov. 17, 2017 at 1:45 PM
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Nov. 17 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump welcomed NCAA championship teams to the White House on Friday -- with some notable exceptions.

The president welcomed multiple teams for "National Collegiate Champions Day," which included college teams from around the country.

It's tradition for championship teams to visit the president every year, but since Trump took office a number of teams and players have refused the invitation.

Glaring omissions from Friday's ceremony were the champions from two of collegiate athletics' most prominent sports -- men's and women's basketball.

South Carolina, the women's champion, and North Carolina, the men's, both were not at the White House.

"We did hear from the White House about attending [Friday's] event, but we will not be able to attend," South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley told The State. "All of our focus is on the season ahead. The only invitation we are thinking about is to the 2018 NCAA tournament."

The team said it had a scheduled practice Friday and a game Sunday.

North Carolina wasn't expected, at all. Earlier this year, the Tar Heels said they wouldn't be coming due to a schedule conflict.

Oklahoma University sent its championship teams in women's and men's gymnastics, golf and softball to Friday's event. Teams from the University of Maryland, Penn State University, the University of Florida and Texas A&M also were present. All teams posed with the president for photographs in various White House locations.

North and South Carolina's teams aren't the first to decline a White House invite from Trump.

In September, the president rescinded an invitation to the NBA champion Golden State Warriors after some players on the team expressed hesitation.

Last season's champions in the other three major U.S. sports -- Major League Baseball's Chicago Cubs, the NFL's New England Patriots and the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins -- all visited Trump at the White House this year.

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