UGA football team declines invitation to White House celebration

University of Georgia players celebrate their Jan. 9 victory during the 2023 College Football Playoff National Championship Game against Texas Christian University at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com

Credit: Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com

University of Georgia players celebrate their Jan. 9 victory during the 2023 College Football Playoff National Championship Game against Texas Christian University at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

WASHINGTON — The University of Georgia football team has said “no thank you” to an invitation from President Joe Biden to celebrate the team’s national championship at the White House.

The Bulldogs were among the teams holding NCAA titles from the 2022-2023 season invited to visit with the president and first lady Jill Biden on June 12 for what is being called “College Athlete Day.” But the school’s athletic association released a statement saying the team’s schedule doesn’t have room for the trip.

“The University of Georgia first received on May 3 an invitation for the Bulldog football team to visit the White House on June 12,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, the date suggested is not feasible given the student-athlete calendar and time of year.”

The Bulldogs’ decision not to travel to Washington comes after months of uncertainty and some criticism of the White House from Georgia fans and Republican leaders. They faulted the Biden administration for failing to act sooner to invite the back-to-back national football champions for a visit.

The entire Georgia congressional delegation even sent a letter to the White House in January asking the team to be recognized “at your earliest convenience.”

“It is our hope that this repeat championship team can join the many teams prior that have been honored by the President,” the bipartisan group wrote.

A Biden administration official said in February that the president “looks forward to welcoming” the team and downplayed the whispers of a snub. It wasn’t until last week, however, that the team received a formal invitation with a date attached.

During his first two years in office, Biden hosted championship winning professional teams at the White House, including the Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Braves.

The first college teams to be celebrated will be the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball champions, the University of Connecticut Huskies and the Louisiana State University Tigers, respectively. They are scheduled for a White House visit on May 26.

The Biden administration has not announced which collegiate teams will attend the June 12 event.

Staff writer Chip Towers contributed to this article.

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