Dawn Staley and the national champion South Carolina women’s basketball team will be invited to the White House, with an exact date to be determined.
The Gamecocks are slated for an invitation later in the fall, according to the office of Nikki Haley, the former S.C. governor and current U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Haley hopes to try and make it to the White House when the Gamecocks are honored, according to her office.
Staley told The Associated Press in an interview Friday night that the team had not been invited even as other championship teams had, “and that in itself speaks volumes.”
“We won before those other teams won their championships. I don’t know what else has to happen,” Staley told the AP.
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Every previous NCAA women’s basketball champion since 1983 has been invited to the White House, spanning five presidents.
Trips to the White House by sports teams this year, however, are no longer a given.
Staley said she isn’t even sure her team, which won the NCAA women’s basketball title in April, would go now if invited. The night her squad won the school’s first national championship, the Hall of Famer said the team would go to the White House because “it’s what it stands for. It’s what national champions do.”
That was before “some things,” as Staley put it Friday night, “transpired over the last few months. I haven’t talked to anyone about it. I got bigger fish to fry than worry about an invitation.”
The Golden State Warriors had an invite, but it was later rescinded by the White House when Trump tweeted that star guard Stephen Curry was “hesitating” in deciding whether to make the traditional champions’ trip to Washington. The NHL champion Pittsburgh Penguins announced this week they would visit the White House. Both the Warriors and the Penguins won their titles months after South Carolina did.
Some teams have made the trip to Washington. Clemson visited the White House this year after winning the College Football Playoff, some members of the New England Patriots went after their Super Bowl victory and the Chicago Cubs went to the Oval Office in June to commemorate their World Series title. The Cubs also had the larger and more traditional visit with President Barack Obama in January, four days before the Trump inauguration.
The North Carolina men’s basketball team said last week that it won’t visit the White House because of a scheduling conflict. A team spokesman said the Tar Heels were willing to go, but the university and White House tried “eight or nine” dates and none worked.
Staley, who is in California this weekend running her first USA Basketball camp as the national team’s head coach, has been to the White House before. She represented the U.S. Olympic team when George W. Bush was president in 2004.
The Associated Press contributed