President Trump hosts NCAA champions at the White House.
The reigning women’s basketball champions from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) have declined an invitation to President Trump’s White House.
University of South Carolina (USC) coach Dawn Staley on Thursday said that the team’s decision is due to a scheduling conflict rather than politics.
“We did hear from the White House about attending (Friday’s event), but we will not be able to attend,” she said in a statement, according to The Post and Courier.
“As I’ve been saying since our practices for this season started, all of our focus is on the season ahead,” she added. “The only invitation we are thinking about is to the 2018 NCAA Tournament.”
The Post and Courier on Thursday reported that the White House is holding NCAA Champions Day on Friday.
The event is an opportunity for Trump to celebrate several collegiate teams from across America who won titles in their respective sports.
Trump has already hosted similar White House events earlier this year for football and men’s basketball, which receive their own individual days.
Staley said after USC’s game Thursday evening that the Gamecocks would have practice the following day.
“I’ve got practice tomorrow,” she said after her team’s 66-36 win over the Clemson University Tigers. “Practice tomorrow. Work on the discipline.”
USC is also scheduled for a 3 p.m. local time game this Sunday against the Wofford College Terriers at the former school’s campus in Columbia, South Carolina.
The Gamecocks won the 2017 national championship for NCAA women’s basketball last April, besting the Mississippi State University Bulldogs.
Staley said after USC’s triumph at the time that “we’ll go to the White House,” adding “it’s what national champions do.”
The basketball coach said last month, however, that she was “over” waiting for the White House to extend her team an invite.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m over the White House thing,” she said. “The only invitation I would like is an invitation to get into the NCAA tournament in March.”
The Washington Post on Thursday reported that the White House invited USC earlier this month to Friday’s event there.