Trump hosts NCAA Women’s champs Baylor at White House

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President Trump on Monday hosted the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament champion the Baylor Lady Bears, marking the first time a women’s sports team has made a solo trip to the White House during his presidency.

Trump met with players and head coach Kim Mulkey in the Oval Office, where they celebrated the team’s tournament victory. The team was the top-ranked seed in the tournament, and defeated Notre Dame, 82-81, in the championship game earlier this month.

“I watched that last game, and that was a tough, rough game with Notre Dame,” Trump said.

The team presented Trump with a No. 1 jersey bearing his name, a championship hat and a basketball signed by the players.

“I’ll mess up my hair, but that’s OK,” Trump quipped as he put the hat on.

Trump offered extensive praise for Mulkey, who has coached Baylor since 2000.

“Would you like to work at the White House, by any chance?” Trump joked after listing Mulkey’s accomplishments.

“No,” replied Mulkey, who previously visited the White House with championship teams during both the Obama and George W. Bush administrations.

The Lady Bears became the first women’s team to partake in a solo celebratory White House visit with Trump, though some women’s college teams attended the White House in 2017 as part of a broader celebration of collegiate champions. 

{mosads}The Washington Post reported that the past two WNBA championship winners were not invited, nor was last year’s NCAA Women’s Basketball champions, Notre Dame.

Making a celebratory White House visit, previously a standard part of winning a title for major sports teams, has become a fraught subject for many athletes in the Trump era. A number of teams and individual athletes have rejected invitations from the president, with many citing his divisive rhetoric, particularly with regards to race.  

The Virginia Cavaliers, winners of this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, announced last week that the team would decline an invite to visit the White House. Head Coach Tony Bennett cited logistical issues in getting the team together to make the trip.

Trump disinvited the Golden State Warriors after the team won the NBA title in 2017. No team has been invited since the Cleveland Cavaliers and Warriors made clear they would not accept an invitation during the past two NBA Finals.

The New England Patriots visited Trump at the White House following the team’s 2017 Super Bowl win, but Trump disinvited the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018 after many players indicated they would not make the trip.

The Washington Capitals hockey team stopped by the White House earlier this year to celebrate the team’s 2018 Stanley Cup victory.

The White House on Monday served fast food from McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King in what is becoming a tradition for visiting collegiate champions. Trump offered similar options to the Clemson Tigers and North Dakota State Bison football teams earlier this year.

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