The University of Georgia has confirmed that their national champion college football team will not visit President Joe Biden at the White House despite being extended an invite. Men’s and women’s basketball national champions from the University of Connecticut and Louisiana State University have already announced their attendance.
The Bulldogs became back-to-back NCAA champions in early January after beating the Texas Christian University (TCU) Horned Frogs 65-7 in the College Football Playoff National Championship game. Georgia did not attend the White House after the previous year’s triumph either when they defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide 33-18, but that was because of COVID-19 restrictions being in place.
Twelve months on, their absence is because of the timing of the proposed visit. “The University of Georgia first received on May 3 an invitation for the Bulldog football team to visit the White House on June 12,” a statement from Georgia athletics to the Athens Banner-Herald reads.
“Unfortunately, the date suggested is not feasible given the student-athlete calendar and time of year. However, we are appreciative of the invitation and look forward to other opportunities for Georgia teams moving forward.”
The Bulldogs are the widely-recognised favourites for a three-peat in the upcoming college football season, so conceivably could be extended another invitation this time next year. American sports teams attending the White House is a long-held tradition.
ESPN claims that such visits date back to at least 1865 and the presidency of Andrew Johnson when amateur baseball clubs the Brooklyn Atlantics and Washington Nationals attended the residence. It was not until Ronald Reagan’s premiership during the 1980s that it became a regular practice.
More recently, the 2022 NBA champion Golden State Warriors and the 2021 World Series-winning Atlanta Braves were each hosted at the White House. The previous three college football champions before the COVID-19 pandemic began – Alabama, Clemson and LSU – attended too.
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The reigning champions not attending this year could also be due to the delay in extending an invitation. Almost five months separated the Bulldogs winning the championship game and the invitation arriving.
That is despite a White House official informing the Athens Banner-Herald in late February of their intention to invite the Bulldogs. In response to their statement, Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-Ga.) said: “This is well deserved and hard fought!!”
A month before that, the state’s congressional delegation and its two Democratic Senators signed a letter addressed to President Biden requesting the Bulldogs’ White House ceremony at their ”earliest convenience”. Since then, Georgia have concluded their spring practices and saw ten players selected in the NFL Draft.
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