Moments after winning the 2017 national championship, North Carolina head coach Roy Williams was asked if the Tar Heels would visit the White House, a longstanding tradition.
“I don't know that we're going to get invited,’’ said Williams, likely referencing his criticism of Donald Trump. “I really don't. But I know one thing, we're putting up a nice banner in the Smith Center that’s hard to get.’’
That invite has yet to come. And their title-winning friends at South Carolina have also not received an invite. It's unclear when and if the Trump White House plans to invite either team — along with other championship teams and athletes across various sports — and if Williams' comments will impact the decision.
Gamecocks' head coach Dawn Staley told Dan Wolken of USA Today Sports that her team hasn't received the invitation but she does plan to attend if it comes. She also said she'd leave it up to her players to decide if they wished to join her in meeting Trump.
“We live in the United States of America,” said South Carolina men's coach Frank Martin before their national semifinal loss to Gonzaga. “I'm not visiting an individual's home. This is the way I look at it. It's the way I express it to our team: We're visiting the top building that represents the great country that's given every single one of us an opportunity. That's the way I would look at it.”
Other athletes, including Martellus Bennett and Devin McCourty of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, have either declined, or will decline, invites to the White House while Trump is president.