Joe Biden

Remarks Honoring the NCAA Women's Basketball Champion Louisiana State University Tigers

May 26, 2023

The President. Thank you. Please, be seated. This is getting old hat for the coach. [Laughter] She's been here with 19 Presidents. [Laughter] All with championship teams. But I think this may be her best moment in terms of the team she's with.

Folks, thanks, Kamala and Jill. And you just described how inspiring this team is, and we we're joined by many, many fans all across the country. And by the way, it seems to me half the folks in this room are from Louisiana.

I want to welcome back President Tate. The last time we were in the White House, we talked about the leadership guiding the university through the pandemic. This time, we're celebrating the champions that have captivated the Nation with their talent and their heart and their grit.

You know, we're joined by Members of the Louisiana delegation—Troy Carter, Garret Graves, Mike Johnson—and a lot of alumni too. We have the proud alumni of Louisiana State here in my Cabinet. Linda Thomas-Greenfield. Stand up, Madam Ambassador. [Laughter] Class of 2004, right? [Laughter]

U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield. Yes. [Laughter]

The President. Okay. All right.

She brought—[laughter]—she's brought her—she's brought global—global leaders together. You know how she does it? She's up in the United Nations—and by the way, she's a major, major player in this administration. And I wondered how is she getting all these folks up in the—you know, the United Nations to work together. She gives them—she takes them to her kitchen—[laughter]—no, no, no—to get to know each other. She calls it the "gumbo diplomacy." [Laughter] No, that's not—not a joke.

Director of Management and Budget Shalanda Young. Where is Shalanda? There you go. Shalanda Young back there, Director of Management and Budget, putting together a deal, hopefully. She grew up in——

[At this point, the President spoke briefly in a Louisiana accent as follows.]

——Baton Rouge—[laughter]—in Clinton, Louisiana, and is now helping lead the critical budget talks for—in the middle of now. But she said, "I'm not—I'm leaving the talks to be here." [Laughter]

And we're all here to celebrate a remarkable group of student athletes. You know, Angel, Alexis, Jasmine, Flau'jae, you know, the entire team. You're—less than a year ago, you'd never even played together.

And, Coach, like I said, you're Hall of Fame, man. I tell you. [Laughter] That's—I—isn't this getting old for you—winning all this time? [Laughter] A Hall of Fame championship coach had a vision: nine new players joined into one powerhouse team.

You started the season five straight 100-point games. Continued into the record 23-and-0 run. Rolled through the regular season with the best in the nearly 20 years and into the Big Dance and one of the most exciting Final Fours ever, winning LSU's first national championship basketball title.

Angela Reese—or, excuse me, Angel, you—you're named the Most Outstanding Player. Wasn't any reason—it didn't surprise me. [Laughter] Demand for tickets was so high you—you couldn't—you know, you made them more expensive for people to come. [Laughter] You know what I mean? The cost of tickets went up 10 times. Ten times. And more than the men's games. [Laughter]

The final was the most viewed game in the history of women's basketball. More viewers than any—than the NBA playoffs. And, folks, we witnessed history. And here's what else we saw: Parents and children who watched every single one of your games together, sometimes driving 10 hours just to see you play. And then—and then we've seen you take the time to talk to them, to laugh with them, to show millions of our daughters they can do anything as well. Anything.

You know, in this team, we saw hope, we saw pride, and we saw purpose. It matters. You know, it's been 51 years since Congress passed title IX, guaranteeing all and girls equal right to participate not only in sports, but in any school program.

Today, 58 percent—and that's a—my colleagues don't like me always mentioning this—but 58 percent of all college students are women, up from 42 percent—[applause]—not athletes—in college are women. And there are now about 10 times more female athletes in college and high school than there were. Millions more women are getting sports scholarships and a chance not just to play, but to earn degrees and build their lives. But there's more progress to make.

In the media, 95 percent of sports stories are still about men. It's not an issue though—[laughter]—not with this team. [Laughter] Folks, we need to support women's sports not just during the championship runs, but the entire year, in every season. Showing up in person. Watching on television. Creating more programming and sponsor—and scholarships and sponsorships and opportunities for millions of women and girls to realize their dreams and know they can do literally anything at all.

You know, I used to tell our daughters, our granddaughters, they can do anything at all. Anything any man can do, they can do. And that's what makes—that's what America is all about: possibilities. And that's what this team is all about: incredible athletes redefining what's possible.

And one more thing: We're hosting the UConn's men basketball team later today. And they're the men's champs——

[Louisiana State University Tigers forward Sa'Myah Smith fainted on stage.]

The President. It's a lot of standing. Folks, it's okay. We're getting——

[The President paused as Ms. Smith received assistance.]

The President. Everything is okay. We're going to—everything is all right. It's a lot of standing. I apologize.

[The event was delayed while Ms. Smith received medical care.]

The President. She's okay. She's—it's happened lots of times.

[Ms. Smith continued to receive care. The President then resumed his remarks as follows.]

The President. Well, it's—like I said: This is not the first time it's happened, not to her but to any—a lot of folks standing up on this stage. So, folks, the—I know it's time to move on, but the one thing I understand—I started to say: Later this afternoon I'm going to be with the Connecticut team, the men's team, and your cousin wants to have a one-on-one. [Laughter] I'm putting my money on you, kid.

Forward Angel Reese. Okay. [Laughter]

The President. Did you know that? She's got a—she's got a cousin—starts on another team. I think his—what's his name? Hawkins? Something like that?

Ms. Reese. Jordan.

The President. Jordan, do you think? Maybe, yes?

Ms. Reese. Yes. [Laughter]

The President. Yes, well, we've got—we've got—we've got a bet going in our—inside. So we—there's a basketball court down below. [Laughter] You think I'm joking. So we're going to work something out here, right?

Ms. Reese. Yes.

The President. One on one? [Laughter]

Forward Emily Ward. I have Angel.

The President. Yes, I've got Angel too. [Laughter]

And besides, I've got Secret Service to make sure Angel's going to win. [Laughter]

I tell you what, between a brother and a sister having two stars on championship ball clubs the same year, it ain't bad. But they're all around the Baltimore area, right?

Yes. That's my family—all of my family was from——

[The President briefly imitated a Baltimore accent.]

——Bawlmer. Bawlmer, as they say.

At any rate, thank you all, again, for your—for your patience for being here.

Look, there's an awful lot—an awful lot to be proud of. And the way in which women's sports has come along, it's just incredible. And you're changing the—and it's not just in sports. It's across the board in every single thing. And it's really neat to see since I've got four granddaughters.

We had some pretty good athletes. I wasn't a bad athlete; my brothers weren't. But all the real athletes in this family are women. [Laughter] So—you've got it. You've got it.

Any rate—so, thank you all for being here.

Coach, I'm going to turn this over to you. And I, again, want to congratulate you. I assume I'll be seeing you next year and next year. So—[laughter].

Head Coach Kim Mulkey. Thank you, sir.

And by the way, that doesn't even count the new fashion line she's going to come out with. [Laughter]

Coach Mulkey. Thank you.

The President. Thank you.

Coach Mulkey. Thank you. The President. All yours, kid. You might want to use that.

Coach Mulkey. Do I have to? [Laughter]

The President. No.

Coach Mulkey. No.

The President. You can use this, if you want.

Coach Mulkey. It doesn't matter.

The President. Either one. You can leave, if you want; anything you want to do. [Laughter]

Coach Mulkey. Well, as you can see, we leave our mark where we go. [Laughter] Sa'Myah planned that.

No, Sa'Myah is fine. For those of you who are concerned, Sa'Myah is fine. I'll assure you of that. She's kind of, right now, embarrassed. She doesn't want to leave; she wants to stand with us, but she needs to be checked out.

I would like to thank you, President Biden, Vice President Harris. I don't want to get emotional here, but we are a proud State. I came back to the State of Louisiana to be a positive. Little did I know that I would get to coach this group of people. They came to our State, and you are looking at the finest our State has to offer right here.

We have parents here. I don't think I've ever come where the parents were allowed to come. That touches my heart. We have my grandchildren, my family. We have coaches' families. We have administrators here. As I said, we're very, very proud.

I would like for Angel Reese, I would like for Emily Ward—our cocaptains—to present to you and your better half, Dr. Jill Biden—[laughter]—a token of our appreciation.

Get in the picture. Get in the picture. [Laughter]

[Ms. Reese and Ms. Ward presented the President and the First Lady with matching team jerseys and posed for a photograph.]

The President. By the way, one thing about Louisiana is it's dangerous. You know why? Our daughter was going to go to school where her brothers went to school, but she decided to go to Tulane. [Laughter]

And I was worried—and see that guy down there? Landrieu, the former mayor.

Coach Mulkey. I know a thing or two about his father, Moon.

The President. Oh, I know too—and his father, Moon, is a hell of a guy and took care of my daughter. Because I was worried she was going to come home with some boy from Bayou La Fouche or something, you know? [Laughter]

Coach Mulkey. Yes.

The President. And talking funny. I couldn't understand. You know what I mean?

Coach Mulkey. We still speak the French language. What—that part of Louisiana hasn't washed away yet.

The President. I know. Well, none of it is going to wash away. And besides, it's an incredible, incredible State.

But anyway, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Coach Mulkey. Thank you. We are honored.

NOTE: The President spoke at approximately 2:30 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Alexis Morris, Jasmine Carson, Flau'jae Smith, Last-Tear Poa, and Kateri Poole, guards, and LaDazhia Williams, Alisa Williams, Armani Bartlett, forwards, Louisiana State University women's basketball team; Jordan Hawkins, guard, University of Connecticut men's basketball team, and his mother Jasmine; Michael Reese, father of Ms. Reese; and Infrastructure Act Implementation Coordinator Mitchell J. Landrieu, in his former capacity as mayor of New Orleans, LA. He also referred to his granddaughters Naomi K., Finnegan J., Roberta M., and Natalie P. Biden and brothers James B. and Francis W. Biden. The transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of the First Lady and Vice President Kamala D. Harris.

Joseph R. Biden, Remarks Honoring the NCAA Women's Basketball Champion Louisiana State University Tigers Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/363103

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