WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump will host college sports championship teams at the White House on Friday, although the South Carolina women’s basketball team declined the invitation.
The White House says 18 NCAA teams will attend a reception at the executive mansion.
“We did hear from the White House about attending (Friday’s) event, but we will not be able to attend,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said in a statement Thursday night. “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.”
Staley said after her team won the NCAA title in April that it would go to the White House if invited because “it’s what it stands for. It’s what national champions do.” She told The Associated Press in late September that she hadn’t received an invite and “that spoke volumes.”
Trump sparred with professional athletes earlier this year when NBA star Stephen Curry said his championship-winning Golden State Warriors didn’t wish to meet with Trump. The feud erupted as Trump was lambasting NFL athletes for kneeling in protest during the national anthem.
North Carolina’s men’s basketball team said earlier this year it could not agree on a date for a visit. Trump hosted the Clemson Tigers football team at the White House in June.
AP Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg contributed to this story.