The University of Virginia men’s basketball team — which won its first-ever victory this year in the NCAA finals after a tremendous battle — is “respectfully” declining to make a visit to the White House this year.
You’re reading that right.
Tony Bennett, the Cavaliers coach, said on the team’s Twitter feed that the basketball players were “either pursuing other pro opportunities or moving on from UVA” — and that it would be “difficult, if not impossible” to gather the entire team together.
In other words, it appears to be logistics, not politics, that is keeping the NCAA-winning team from making the trip to meet with President Donald Trump.
"We have received inquiries about a visit to the White House. With several players either pursuing pro opportunities or moving on from UVA, it would be difficult, if not impossible to get everyone back together. We would have to respectfully decline an invitation.” – Tony Bennett
— Virginia Men's Basketball (@UVAMensHoops) April 26, 2019
Some professional teams, notably, have not visited the White House intentionally after their recent championships. Instead, they’ve cited political differences with the Trump administration as their reason for declining a trip, as Fox5DC.com pointed out.
However, the women’s basketball team at Baylor said Wednesday that it did indeed accept an invitation to visit the White House next week.
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Their visit is slated for Monday afternoon.
“It’s an honor to go to the White House. I want everyone to say they went to the White House. Not many people can say that,” said Kim Mulkey.
The Baylor team will be the first female team — and the first basketball team — to receive its own championship celebration during President Trump’s time in the White House, as USA Today noted.
Kim Mulkey, the Baylor coach, had said previously that the team would be open to an invitation to the White House — and that she did not view this as “a political issue.”
“I’ve been every time for every president,” Mulkey remarked to the Associated Press. “It’s an honor to go to the White House. I want everyone to say they went to the White House. Not many people can say that.”
After Baylor beat Notre Dame in the championships, Trump sent a message to the team, saying, “Congratulations to the Baylor Lady Bears on their amazing win last night against Notre Dame to become the 2019 NCAA Women’s Basketball National Champions!”
Mulkey’s teams have been to the White House twice before — once in 2005, and another time in 2012, when Baylor won national titles, as Sports Illustrated noted.
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