USC Women's Basketball

Dawn Staley addresses White House invitation situation

Dawn Staley is done talking about White House invitation

As the season starts, focus is on winning another national championship
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As the season starts, focus is on winning another national championship

South Carolina women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley sidestepped questions Wednesday about if her team has yet to receive a formal invitation for her 2016-2017 national championship team to visit the White House.

“Here’s my take, and I’m not going to discuss the White House anymore. As far as I’m concerned, I’m over the White House invitation,” Staley said. “The only invitation I would like is an invitation to get into the NCAA tournament in March. Other than that, I’m going to focus on my team.”

Staley’s statement comes on the heels of comments she made Friday to the Associated Press that her squad had yet to receive an invitation, despite the fact that every national champion since 1983 has visited the White House to meet the president, and other teams have since won championships and been invited.

“That in itself speaks volumes,” Staley said. “We won before those other teams won their championships. I don’t know what else has to happen.”

Staley had said in April her team would visit the White House because “it’s what national champions do.” On Friday, she appeared to back off those comments, saying she made them before “some things transpired over the past few months,” seemingly referencing President Donald Trump’s controversial administration.

On Saturday, former South Carolina governor and current United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley’s office said the team would be invited.

Professional and college championship teams first began visiting the White House as far back as 1865, and on a regular basis starting under President Ronald Reagan, according to ESPN. However, Trump’s controversial stances and comments have led to the NBA champion Golden State Warriors to announce they will skip the visit after Trump attacked star player Stephen Curry on Twitter.

NCAA men’s basketball champion North Carolina announced last week that it will not visit the White House, though the program said the decision was made because of an inability to settle on a date with White House officials, not because of politics.

Other championship teams, including the NFL’s New England Patriots, MLB’s Chicago Cubs and NCAA football’s Clemson Tigers, have all met with Trump.