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Mostly White NCAA Champions Visit White House

The men and women's basketball champions declined the invitation, each citing "scheduling conflicts."

REUTERS

The group of athletes from 18 NCAA championship teams visiting the White House last week was very similar to President Donald Trump's administration: they were nearly all white and not representative of the nation at large.


It seemed the majority of players or teams in attendance — those without "scheduling conflicts" — were those whose sports are primarily white. According to NCAA data, for every sport represented at the White House, the athletes are mostly white — at least 60 percent (the only exception is men's tennis, which is still mostly white but at 55.4 percent).

However, Trump's invitees were not even racially reflective of college athletes, the schools they represented or college students in general. For many of the schools, their athletes nowhere near represent the college's racial makeup. In fact, in some instances the school's team has almost all white players — but less than half of the student body is Caucasian.

Photos of the event showing majority white teams are not always representative of the school's student bodies, similar to how Trump's nearly all-white and male administration does not reflect America's demographics.

For instance, the women's equestrian team from Texas A&M University, according to its website, is entirely white. Nationally, men and women's NCAA equestrian teams are both more than 85 percent white.

Meanwhile, the university's San Antonio campus is 65 percent Hispanic and only 22 percent white. Texas A&M University-Texarkana is 63 percent white; 16 percent Black; 13 percent Hispanic; 4 percent two or more races; 1 percent Asian, unknown, non-resident alien, and American Indian/Alaska Native; and less than 1 percent Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.

The men's indoor track and field team from Texas A&M also visited. Overall, NCAA men's indoor track and field players are just over 60 percent white.

The University of Washington's women's rowing team, which appears to be entirely white, also went to the White House. NCAA female rowing athletes are just under three-quarters white. But on all three of the University of Washington's campuses — Seattle, Tacoma and Bothell — the undergraduate student population is no more than 45 percent white.

Other teams that visited the White House included the men and women's lacrosse teams from the University of Maryland, both of which appear almost exclusively white, according to their websites. Overall, NCAA lacrosse teams for men and women are 85.2 and 84.9 percent white, respectively.

The University of Maryland's undergraduate students, meanwhile, are 49.9 percent white, 16.8 percent Asian, 12.5 percent Black, 9.6 percent Hispanic, 5.1 percent "foreign," 4.2 percent two or more races, 1.7 percent "unknown" and less than 1 percent both American Indian/Alaska Native as well as Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.

The University of Oklahoma sent four teams: men and women's gymnastics, men's golf and women's softball. Both the men and women's gymnastics teams are practically all white. The men's golf roster is entirely white. The women's softball team appears to have the most racial diversity out of the four but is predominantly white as well.

The university's main campus, Norman, is 62 percent white, 9 percent Hispanic, 7 percent two or more races, 6 percent Asian, 5 percent Black, 4 percent non-resident alien, 4 percent American Indian/Alaska Native, 2 percent "unknown" and less than 1 percent Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.

Arizona State University sent its women's triathlon team, which appears mostly white on its website. The university's undergraduate population is 50.5 white, though, and 21.7 percent Hispanic, 10.6 percent "international," 6.6 percent Asian, 4.3 percent Black, 4 percent two or more races, 1.3 percent American Indian/Alaska Native and less than 1 percent Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (less than 1 percent are "unspecified").

McKendree University's women's bowling team is nearly all white, while the university itself is roughly 68 percent white; 13 percent Black; 7 percent "unknown"; 4 percent Hispanic; 2 percent nonresident alien as well as two or more races; and less than 1 percent American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.

The University of Florida's men's baseball team is nearly all white, despite the university being 57 percent white, 21 percent Hispanic, 8 percent Asian, 6 percent Black, 3 percent two or more races as well as "unknown," 1 percent nonresident alien as well as Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and less than 1 percent American Indian/Alaska Native.

Two teams that were invited did not visit — the University of South Carolina's women's basketball team and the University of North Carolina's men's basketball team.

NCAA basketball players are only 40.3 percent white for men and 52 percent white when it comes to women.

The University of South Carolina's undergraduate student body is 69.1 percent white, 15.9 percent Black, 4 percent Hispanic, 3.1 percent two or more races, 1.9 percent Asian, 1.5 percent non-resident alien and less than 1 percent Native American as well as Pacific Islander (4 percent did not respond).

The women chalked up the decision to a scheduling conflict, according to CBS Sports. Team coach Dawn Staley said the team had a needed planned practice that day. In September, though, the Associated Press reported Staley as saying that the team had not yet been invited to visit and that was enough of a message.

"We haven't gotten an invitation yet and that in itself speaks volumes," Staley said at the time, according to the AP.

On the eve of the visit Staley said in a statement, "The only invitation we are thinking about is to the 2018 NCAA Tournament."

Every women's basketball NCAA championship team since 1983 has made the trip to the White House, the AP also reported.

Further sowing the divide between Black and white athletes, Trump on Sunday blasted the father of one of the three UCLA basketball players who was detained in China, saying he did not express enough gratitude — a move that one lawmaker blasted as unbecoming for the office of the president.

"The President would have left American students in a foreign jail because their families didn't lavish sufficient praise on him. How can someone in such a big office be so small?" tweeted Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)

Related Story: Trump Says he Should Have Left UCLA Players in Jail in China

The men's team said there was a scheduling conflict as well and said that the team and the White House attempted to coordinate numerous dates but none worked out.

According to The News & Observer, a spokesperson for the team said that "we would have liked to have gone, but [are] not going." However, the outlet also reported, coach Roy Moore has been critical of Trump in the past, notably of his social media habit.

"It used to be much more so than I think it is now," Moore said earlier this year, according to the publication. "Now everybody's has got social media, and we don't need The New York Times to find out what in the dickens is going on in the country. You know, our president tweets out more bulls**t than anybody I've ever seen. We've got social media."

The University of North Carolina is 62.2 percent white, 12.8 percent Asian, 7.9 percent Black, 7.2 percent Hispanic, 5.5 percent two or more races, 3.8 percent "unknown" and less than one percent American Indian/Alaska Native as well as Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.

The University of Utah skiing team, which appears to be all white based on the available photos of team members, also visited. According to NCAA demographics, more than 80 percent of men and women student athlete skiers are white. The university is 70 percent white.

A photo on the Penn State Rugby's website for the women — another team that visited on Friday — shows an almost entirely white team as well. Both men and women's rugby teams in the NCAA overall are more than 60 percent white. According to its website, Penn State's undergraduate enrollees for 2016-2017 are 68.4 percent white.

Over the summer a photo of White House interns went viral because of its stunning lack of diversity.

The White House website does not offer statistics specifically on the demographics of its interns. But one look at a photo sends the message loud and clear.

Females make up just over half of the population, according to the United States Census Bureau, but are not even equally represented among Trump's White House interns. Also according to the Census Bureau, 44.2 percent of millennials are ethnically diverse. The interns appear to be almost entirely white.

As reported by The Washington Post, "Republican voters are largely white and older, and the White House can only choose interns based on the applicant pool. Nevertheless, the photo serves as evidence that the next wave of Republican leaders are not representative of America's changing demographics. Without a change of course, future leaders of the GOP won't reflect the experiences of the majority of people they seek to govern."

And when Trump took office he did so with the least diverse presidential Cabinet in decades, and the first Cabinet without a Latino member since President Ronald Reagan appointed the first Latino nearly 30 years ago.

For the 15 core Cabinet posts, Trump selected 13 men and two women. He chose one Black man, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, nominated to be housing secretary; and one Asian woman, Elaine Chao, picked to be secretary of transportation. The other woman was his Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

Although Trump invited the teams that won championships, he also demonstrated previously that a White House visit is by no means guaranteed. In September year he rescinded a White House invitation for the Golden State Warriors, who won the NBA championship this year, putting the blame on the team's point guard Stephen Curry.

"Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team," Trump wrote on Twitter. "Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!"

Curry had said the day before he was not interested in visiting the White House, although the team had not yet received an invitation.

"[Athletes are] all trying to do what we can. We're using our platforms, using our opportunities to shed light on that, so that's kind of where I stand on it. I don't think us not going to the White House is going to miraculously make everything better, but this is my opportunity to voice that," he said, according to USA Today.

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