Biden pulls out of College Athlete Day at the White House, citing tooth pain
Emory’s men’s and women’s swim teams attended, Georgia football did not
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
University of Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis displays his Atlanta Braves jersey, which was hidden under his UGA jersey, as he speaks during a celebration Jan. 15 at Sanford Stadium in Athens to mark Georgia’s College Football Playoff national championship. Georgia captured the national championship, its first since the 1980 season, with a 33-18 victory over Alabama at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The team then won another title this past January. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
WASHINGTON — Dozens of college athletes who traveled to Washington to celebrate their national championship seasons with President Joe Biden never got a chance to meet him. That includes students from Emory University.
Biden’s dentist announced Monday that he was undergoing an unscheduled root canal, and as a result the president wasn’t able to play host at the inaugural College Athlete Day at the White House. Vice President Kamala Harris headlined the event instead.
The University of Georgia football team was among the national winners from the 2022-2023 seasons who were invited, but the school declined the invitation in a controversial decision. At the time, university athletic association officials said that the team’s schedule, including practices and youth camps, didn’t allow room for the trip.
But there was speculation that there was more to it, since prior to the event Republicans and even some Democrats had criticized the Biden administration for not inviting the school to the White House immediately after either of its back-to-back national titles in the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
The White House said Emory University’s men’s and women’s swim teams were in attendance. The men’s swimming and diving team won the Division III national championship in 2022 and 2023. The women’s team was national runner-up both years.
“We are honored to have the opportunity to represent Division III, Emory University, Emory Athletics, and 75 years of Emory swimming and diving at the White House,” said a statement from Keiko Price, Emory’s associate vice president of Campus Life and director of athletics. “We truly appreciate the support for college athletics and the recognition of the dedication needed to be a student-athlete.”
Shortly before College Athlete Day was scheduled to begin, the White House released a letter from Biden’s dentist that said he first reported tooth pain Sunday and received some initial treatments. His doctors said they knew he would need a root canal but decided to move forward with the procedure immediately after he reported additional discomfort Monday.
As the event got underway, Harris addressed the crowd on the South Lawn with several dozen athletes from various men’s and women’s teams standing behind her. In total, student-athletes from 47 teams representing all three NCAA divisions and 19 sports were on hand.
Tia Mitchell is the AJC’s Washington correspondent. In this role, she writes about Georgia’s congressional delegation, campaigns, elections and the impact that decisions made in D.C. have on residents of the Peach State.