The University of South Carolina women’s basketball team joins a growing list of athletes who are declining visits to President Donald Trump’s White House.
The NBA’s Golden State Warriors and about half of the NFL’s New England Patriots skipped celebrating their respective championship wins in Washington D.C. with the president. Many of the athletes who spoke publicly about their decision — including Warriors star point guard Steph Curry — attributed the choice to disagreeing strongly with Trump’s politics.
According to SBNation, the South Carolina Gamecocks have also decided not to mark their 2017 Women’s NCAA championship win by hanging out with the Trumps. The team was invited to take part in a larger event during which Trump would meet with them and other NCAA champions.
While this event has been in the planning stages for some time, South Carolina’s head coach, Dawn Staley, revealed in September that her team had not been invited yet.
“We haven’t gotten an invitation yet and that in itself speaks volumes,” Staley reportedly said at the time.
However, they finally received their invite earlier this month, but they’ve chosen to forgo the opportunity to instead focus on their upcoming season.
“We did hear from the White House about attending tomorrow’s event, but we will not be able to attend,” Staley said. “As I’ve been saying since our practices for this season started, all of our focus is on the season ahead. The only invitation we are thinking about is to the 2018 NCAA Tournament.”
The NCAA Champion North Carolina Tarheels men’s basketball team also isn’t going to the event. The team reportedly said they could not agree on a date for an official visit.
While scheduling conflicts are likely the most pressing reasons why these collegiate teams aren’t attending the White House visit, it’s also likely that other factors might be at play.
Trump’s low approval ratings, his divisive rhetoric, and the constant scandal within his administration have not really inspired folks to jump at the chance to meet him. Therefore, it would come as no surprise if these teams really weren’t trying too hard to find a date that would work.