32 out of 33 NCAA women’s champion teams have been honored by the President since Ronald Reagan and the Southern California women’s basketball team in 1984, and at least 16 WNBA champion teams have received White House invitations since the league began in 1997. That 30+ year streak has been broken by Donald Trump…but it doesn’t come as a surprise.
Although most championship visits have become sporadic across all sports with Trump in the White House, visits by women’s teams have been extremely scarce. Baylor University’s women’s basketball team will be the first female team in any sport to be honored and receive their own championship ceremony during Trump’s time in office.
Ellen Staurowsky, a professor of sports management at Drexel University, believes Trump has changed the whole idea of visiting the White House, especially considering multiple teams have not been invited or declined invitations, most recently being the Virginia men’s basketball team. The Cleveland Cavaliers also recently announced they declined a visit after Trump’s comments about a 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville were back in the headlines.
Taking into consideration Trump’s past comments about women and the sexual harassment allegations that were brought against him, his lack of acknowledgment towards women in sports is not questionable. Staurowsky said, “On one hand, it leaves us with the question: Is it all that surprising that this administration would not invite as many women?””And then it also presents the dilemma of what women are to make when these kinds of invitations are extended.”
According to USA TODAY Sports, each of the last four presidents honored women’s basketball champions as frequently as men.
Former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton typically held joint celebrations for the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball champions. Former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama also followed suit, but Obama took the tradition a step further and celebrated every college and professional women’s basketball champion individually during his term.
Trump, has only hosted female athletes or women’s teams at the White House twice since taking office. The first was part of a celebration of NCAA champions in non-revenue sports in 2017 and the second was a ceremony honoring Olympians and Paralympians in 2018. He has yet to extend an invitation to a WNBA champion.
But honestly, no one is surprised.