Nearly six months after the South Carolina Gamecocks women’s basketball team won their first-ever NCAA championship, the team still has yet to receive an invitation from the White House.
While it has been a contentious year for sports and politics, this seems to be a break from tradition; every NCAA women’s basketball champion since 1983 has been invited to the White House, spanning five different presidents.
South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley, currently in California running her first USA Basketball camp as their head coach, told the Associated Press that she doesn’t understand it.
"We haven't gotten an invitation yet and that in itself speaks volumes," the women's basketball coach said in a phone interview on Friday night. "We won before those other teams won their championships. I don't know what else has to happen."
The other teams that Staley is referring to are the NBA champion Golden State Warriors, and the NHL champion Pittsburgh Penguins; both teams won their respective championships in June. While the Penguins have accepted their invitation, the Warriors’ invitation was rescinded by President Donald Trump due to what he saw as hesitation by guard Stephen Curry to decide if he would go if invited.
That being said, Staley is on record as saying her team would go if invited. When the Gamecocks won their championship, Staley said her team would go because "it's what it stands for. It's what national champions do."
However, the Hall-of-Fame coach is unsure as to whether the team would go now, saying on Friday night that "some things 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.”
Other teams that have won a championship have been invited to the White House and in most cases did visit. The Clemson Tigers visited the White House after winning the College Football Playoff in January, members of the New England Patriots went after their Super Bowl victory, and the Chicago Cubs went in June to commemorate their historic World Series victory from last October.
The NCAA men’s basketball champion North Carolina Tar Heels, while invited, will not be attending to scheduling conflicts between both the team and the White House.
As of Saturday morning, the White House has not responded to a request for comment.