The last thing on Roy Williams’ mind right now is Donald Trump. Williams’ North Carolina Tar Heels are national champions. Williams claimed his third title in 13 seasons with a 71-65 victory over Gonzaga.
But at his postgame press conference, Williams was asked about whether he would accept an invitation to the White House — something champions have received regularly since Ronald Reagan’s presidency in the 1980s. Here’s Williams’ full answer:
“I haven’t had any [thoughts]. I probably screwed it up. I should have told you let me think about it afterwards, because I wasn’t going to jinx myself.
“We won in ’05; we never got invited. I don’t know if we’re going to get invited this time. That’s a bad way to put it. They invited us in September when they were doing a lot of teams. Well, all my team were already at the NBA training camp and two of them in Europe. So we didn’t go in ’05. And we did go in ’09.
“But, you know, the office of the presidency of the United States is the most fantastic place you can be. But let me think on it. Again, I don’t know that we’re going to get invited. 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.”
Williams previously took a jab at Trump in a press conference at the ACC tournament. As part of his answer to an unrelated question, he said: “You know, our president tweets out more bulls— than anybody I’ve ever seen.”
As Williams hinted at Monday after the title game, Trump has no obligation to invite the Tar Heels, or any other team, to the White House. It’s a tradition Barack Obama sustained during his presidency, but not one that is by any means mandatory. But it’s clear that Williams hasn’t decided how he and his team would respond to the invitation, if in fact it does come.
On Sunday night, after South Carolina won the women’s basketball national championship, Dawn Staley — the second African-American female coach to win a Division I basketball title — said she and her team would go to the White House if invited. Here star player, A’ja Wilson, said she too would go.
Neither the South Carolina women nor the North Carolina men have received any official invitation.
Trump has not yet hosted a sports team at the White House, but the visits often come months, not weeks, after a championship is won. Villanova visited last year roughly two months after its title. Last year’s Super Bowl champions, the Denver Broncos, visited over the summer.
Assuming Trump does extend invitations, the New England Patriots — several of whom have said they will not attend — and Clemson Tigers football team would be first in line. The Gamecocks and Tar Heels basketball teams would be next.