Following the University of Virginia’s triumph over Texas Tech in the NCAA basketball championships, the men’s basketball team received the traditional invitation to the White House. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, however, they will be declining.
Ostensibly, the decision is unrelated to politics or to any sort of protest against President Donald Trump, as this was not cited as a reason in the announcement by UVA coach Tony Bennett:
"We have received inquiries about a visit to the White House. 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.” – Tony Bennett
— Virginia Men's Basketball (@UVAMensHoops) April 26, 2019
Nonetheless, at least some members of the team appear to have been politically opposed to the visit as well, with sophomore forward De’Andre Hunter gleefully mocking the president over the snub:
Two years ago, Trump famously drew outrage from Charlottesville, Virginia, the home of UVA, when he defended some of the neo-Nazis who marched on the city with tiki-torches as “very fine people.”
After former Vice President Joe Biden declared his 2020 candidacy in Charlottesville, Trump brought his horrific response to the incident back into the news by doubling down on it, praising Confederate commander Robert E. Lee as a “great general” and defending white supremacist demonstrators who opposed removing a statue of him.