USC's Championship Teams Visit White House

March 23, 2004

Remarks by the President

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- On Tuesday, March 23, the USC national championship football and women's volleyball teams were honored by President George W. Bush in a ceremony held at The White House.

USC was among the five teams that were invited to take part in the NCAA Fall Sports Championship Day, including football co-champions Louisiana State, women's soccer champion North Carolina and men's soccer champion Indiana.

The Trojans arrived at the White House at approximately 3 p.m. and were escorted to the East Wing to await the arrival of the President. The football team was organized in the East Dining Room, while the volleyball team awaited President Bush in the Red Room.

The President entered the East Dining Room to a round of hurrahs while sporting a 'Heisman' pose. He then took his photograph with LSU, before making his way over to the USC football team that was grouped together on the opposite side. Freshman tailback Desmond Reed took it upon himself to break away from his spot in the group and personally greet the President. The amused President assented before guiding the rascally Reed back to his original spot. After the photo was taken, the President was surrounded by the players as they shook his hand, took pictures and got autographs.

Volleyball was the last team to be visited in the Red Room. President Bush congratulated the Women of Troy on their return visit to the White House and an outstanding season. The President also acknowledged and congratulated head coach Mick Haley, whom he first met in Texas when Bush was governor and Haley was the Longhorns' head coach. After posing for the photo and shaking hands, Bush commented 'I hope both of us will be back next year!'

All five teams were then escorted to the South Lawn where they were each presented to the crowd of media and guests. Both the football and volleyball teams were introduced to the playing of 'Fight On' by a Marine Corps quartet.

In a speech to the gathering, President Bush hailed the accomplishments of the teams. He not only praised their success on the field, but also their many volunteer efforts, for example football's annual visit to the USC Children's Hospital and volleyball's participation in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

Following his remarks, each team presented Bush with a gift. Quarterback Matt Leinart presented the President with a USC national championship ring, while middle blocker Emily Adams gave him an autographed back-to-back national championship volleyball. Bush thanked each athlete and posed for photos, giving Adams a kiss on the cheek before making his exit.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Southern California and LSU finally met Tuesday, but noton the football field. President Bush hosted the players at the White House tohonor the co-national champions.

There's been 'a lot of talk about who's number one,' Bush joked, addingthat the South Lawn of the White House is 'a pretty good size,' big enough toaccommodate both teams.

The Bowl Championship Series came under intense criticism at the end of theseason when USC, ranked No. 1 in the AP media and the coaches' polls, wasbypassed for the BCS' title game in the Sugar Bowl. LSU beat Oklahoma, andfinished No. 1 in the final coaches' poll

USC beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl and was voted No. 1 in the finalAssociated Press poll.

Both teams are national champions, Bush declared to cheers at a ceremonyfeaturing three other NCAA championship teams: Indiana's men's soccer team,North Carolina's women's soccer team and USC women's volleyball team.

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