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Staley downplays criticism of rejecting President Trump’s White House invite

While the criticism pours in from the South Carolina Gamecocks' denial to visit the White House, head coach Dawn Staley is focsued on business as usual.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Women's Final Four-Mississippi State vs South Carolina Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

While the White House celebrated Collegiate National Champions Day on Friday, the South Carolina Gamecocks were noticeably absent.

And South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley has a valid reason for why they were not there.

In a report from The State, Staley explained why it was that South Carolina wasn't participating with other NCAA champions in Washington, D.C.. In a short statement, Staley told them, "Because we're here practicing."

South Carolina was in fact practicing for their Sunday matchup against Wofford, but the issue has been a simmering topic since the Gamecocks won their first national title in April.

After South Carolina won, Staley said the team would go to the White House if invited because "it's what champions do." However, in a September interview with the Associated Press, Staley said the invite never came, despite the fact that other championship teams, who won their titles after the Gamecocks, had already received theirs.

In an earlier report on Swish Appeal, Staley said that the team did receive an invite earlier this month, but declined.

When Staley was asked about how observes were criticizing the decision amd whether this was a political statement, she said that she can't determine how other people think or feel.

"I can’t speak on what other people think. People can think what they want to think,” Staley said. “I’m here concentrating on my team and getting better.”