NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt coach Stephanie White says it is a “slap in the face” to the Gamecocks that South Carolina still is waiting for an invitation to the White House as the national women’s basketball champions.
Texas A&M coach Gary Blair took it a step further: He suggests President Donald Trump call coach Dawn Staley personally and ask her to visit.
“She deserves that honor and her team. But more importantly, the country needs to see a women’s basketball team in the White House being recognized. That’s something that they’ve earned,” said Blair, who visited the White House after his Aggies won the 2011 national title.
Blair said he understands it’s been busy with hurricanes and the shooting in Las Vegas. He also suggested congressmen from South Carolina help out the Gamecocks. Blair called Staley an Olympian who has done more for race relations in South Carolina than any politician in the entire state.
“I’m sure she’ll eventually get that invitation, but it would mean more if Trump would pick up the phone and call her personally and say, ‘We’d love to have you ,'” Blair said.
White, who visited the White House as a national champ with Purdue and later as a WNBA champion with the Indiana Fever, said Thursday at SEC media day that it bothers her and it isn’t right.
“I certainly think when you’re inviting every other champion that it’s a slap in the face, there’s no doubt that you’re not invited,” White said.
Staley told The Associated Press on Sept. 29 she wasn’t sure her team , which won the NCAA women’s basketball title in April, would go now if invited. The night her squad won the school’s first national championship, the Hall of Famer said the team would go to the White House because “it’s what it stands for. It’s what national champions do.”
The office of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said recently an invite would be coming later. Haley, the former South Carolina governor, is friendly with coach Staley.
Staley said Thursday while her fellow SEC coaches are standing up for what’s right, she is focused on her next NCAA Tournament berth.