White House invitation for Dawn Staley’s Gamecocks reported to be on the way

DALLAS, TX - APRIL 02: A'ja Wilson
DALLAS, TX - APRIL 02: A'ja Wilson /

After locking up the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship in April, University of South Carolina’s Hall of Fame coach, Dawn Staley, said she looked forward to carrying forward the time-honored tradition of visiting the White House with her players because “it’s what national champions do.”

Staley should know: She and her Team USA teammates visited George W. Bush’s White House in 2004 after winning gold at the Athens Summer Olympics.

But Staley reported in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday night that the team had not received an invitation.

“We haven’t gotten an invitation yet, and that in itself speaks volumes,” Staley said. “We won before those other teams won their championships. I don’t know what else has to happen.”

“Those other teams” to which Staley referred include:

The UNC Tar Heels, winner of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, reportedly will not visit the White House due to a scheduling conflict.

Staley did not clarify the message she feels the White House has sent by not extending an invitation to the NCAA Women’s Basketball champs who were crowned well before teams in other sports and leagues secured trophies. But one thing is obvious: The teams that received invitations and visited the White House already are men’s teams.

The lack of invitation — plus what Staley called “some things” that have “transpired over the last few months” (see: 2017 NBA champions Golden State Warriors) — have clearly zapped her initial enthusiasm from April.

Considering the collision between sports and politics lately — and all-out vehemence between President Donald Trump and athletes over White House visits and styles of protest — it is no wonder Staley be skeptical about whether her team would receive an invitation.

United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, a former governor of South Carolina who is reported to be friends with Staley, issued a statement on Saturday that an invitation would be extended in the fall. However, neither the White House nor Trump have commented or confirmed this information.

No matter what happens, it seems Staley is focused on basketball.

“I got bigger fish to fry than worry about an invitation,” she said.

Those bigger fish include preparing a team for success despite losing key players last year’s championship squad to the WNBA — like, 2017 All-Rookie team members Kaela Davis and Allisha Gray, both of the Dallas Wings.

Gray also won 2017 WNBA Rookie of the Year honors.