George W. Bush photo

Remarks Honoring NCAA Championship Teams

June 18, 2007

The President. Thank you all. Please be seated. Welcome to the South Lawn. This is an historic day. After all, this is the largest gathering that we've had for champions day, and we're glad to welcome the champs here to the South Lawn. I appreciate being with good athletes, good students, and good leaders, and that's what it takes to become a champion.

I appreciate the fact that you've endured tough practices, that you've set big goals, and you worked hard to achieve them. And so we congratulate your coaches, we congratulate your families, but most importantly, we congratulate you. We honor America's champs.

The Secretary of the Treasury is with us, Secretary Paulson. Thank you for coming, sir. I appreciate the Members of the United States Congress that have joined us—and the United States Senate. Now, you don't need to do the gator thing. [Laughter]

The teams here today span 21 different campuses in 14 different States from California all the way over to Florida. You represent eight different athletic conferences: the Big Ten to the Pac-10 to the West Coast Conference and to the Ivy League. There's Tigers and Badgers, Huskers and Anteaters. [Laughter] Go Anteaters. [Laughter] Fight Anteaters.

You've distinguished yourselves on fields and fairways, tracks and tennis courts, rivers and rinks, pommel horses and pools, bowling alleys, mountains, and basketball arenas. You have one thing in common: You have achieved the great title, "champion," and nobody can take that away from you.

We have a number of first-time champs here today. The Auburn women's outdoor track and field team is here. I think that would go "War Eagle."

Audience members. War Eagle!

The President. There you go. Don't get carried away here; it's a little—[laughter]— it's a little hot. [Laughter]

Speaking about the Anteaters, UC Irvine men volleyball team is with us. Congratulations. The Gauchos, yes, UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team; Georgia Tech women's tennis team is the first-time champ; Pepperdine men's tennis team is with us. Vanderbilt women's bowling team is with us today. There you go—Wisconsin men's indoor track and field.

Some of the teams here have been waiting a long time to reclaim a championship. Dartmouth men's and women's skiing team—they won their first title 30 years ago, and now they're here at the White House. Congratulations.

Michigan State men's ice hockey team, they won their first hockey crown more than 20 years ago, and they're back. Congratulations to you.

We've got some repeat champs here. It's hard enough to win; it's really hard to repeat. Auburn women's swimming team, back to back—ready? Okay. War Eagle——

Audience members. War Eagle!

The President. Cal women's crew.

A feat that's really hard to do is win back-to-back NCAA basketball titles. And we're proud to welcome the Florida men's basketball team here.

Not to provoke a rivalry, however, but the Florida State men's outdoor track and field team is with us. Maryland women's field hockey team, repeat champs. Wisconsin women's ice hockey team—the repeat champs.

We've got teams here that have won three championships in a row—that would be called a three-peat—Georgia women's gymnastics, Northwestern women's lacrosse. I might as well go on the record, all right; I was disappointed in the footwear. [Laughter] It's just too conventional, especially on a hot day. And the Stanford women's tennis team. A three-peat champ is UCLA women's water polo. And by the way, their title was UCLA's 100th overall national championship. Congratulations to UCLA. Five-peat, Auburn's men's swimming team.

Audience members. War Eagle!

The President. Some of the teams are adding new chapters to their schools' record books. Cal men's water polo, they won their 12th water polo championship, which is an NCAA record. The Colorado men's cross country team, the Buffaloes won their second title in 3 years. And congratulations; welcome back. The North Carolina women's soccer team, 18th championship in the 25 year history of the tournament. Georgia men's tennis, they went undefeated; they claimed their fifth NCAA tennis title. Nebraska women's volleyball, the Huskers were ranked number one the entire season and won their third NCAA championship. Penn State men's and women's fencing—they won their 10th national championship, more than any other fencing team in the Nation. Penn State men's gymnastics won their 12th national championship. Stanford men's golf, wire-to-wire victory to earn their eighth NCAA golf title.

So I'm sitting back there with the captains, I said, "Do you want the 1-hour speech or the 5-minute speech?" They said, "You been outside lately?" I said, "Yes, barely." I said, "How about the 2-minute speech?" [Laughter] So I want to conclude this ceremony by thanking all the people that are here. I appreciate the fact that you're champions on the field and champions off the field.

You know, I asked some of the seniors what they're going to do, and I remember one girl told me she's going to be Teach for America. That means being a champ off the field. It means giving back something to society. I appreciate the fact that the Pepperdine men's tennis team held a free clinic for children in Washington, DC, just yesterday.

In other words, you can win on the athletic field, and you can win in the classroom, but you can also contribute to our country by helping somebody in need, by using your championship status to help heal a broken heart or to help somebody live a better life.

And so to the champs: I'm glad you're here. For those of you who follow Presidential politics, you know I'll be around 1 more year. I'm looking forward to having you come back. In the meantime, I ask for God's blessings on you, your family, and our country. Thanks for coming.

NOTE: The President spoke at 4:44 p.m. on the South Lawn at the White House.

George W. Bush, Remarks Honoring NCAA Championship Teams Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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