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Latest Team to Turn Down WH Invite: 'Difficult, If Not Impossible'

Tony Bennett, coach of Virginia Cavaliers, says it's a scheduling issue
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2019 6:30 AM CDT
This Dec. 19, 2018, file photo shows Virginia head coach Tony Bennett watching players before an NCAA college basketball game against South Carolina in Columbia, SC.   (AP Photo/Sean Rayford,File)

(Newser) – The Virginia Cavaliers won their first-ever NCAA men's basketball championship in early April by beating Texas Tech, and like many victors, the University of Virginia men's basketball team may have had a chance to visit the White House—except the team's coach says they're not going, Fox News reports. The team tweeted a statement from coach Tony Bennett on Friday afternoon noting it had "received inquiries about a visit to the White House," but that "with several players either pursuing pro opportunities or moving on from UVA, it would be difficult, if not impossible to get everyone back together. We would have to respectfully decline an invitation."

It's not clear if an invite had even yet been issued. Last year's champs, the Villanova Wildcats, say they weren't invited to the White House (and likely wouldn't have gone if they were), and there's been similar drama involving pro sports teams like the Golden State Warriors and the Philadelphia Eagles. ABC News points out this rejection of a potential White House invite is particularly "noteworthy," as UVA is located in Charlottesville, the site of the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally where protester Heather Heyer was killed, and after which President Trump took heat for his "very fine people on both sides" comment. (Trump doubled down on that comment just this week, this time linking it to a monument to Gen. Robert E. Lee.)

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