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Remarks on Meeting the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Men's and Women's Basketball Champions

April 17, 1990

First, let me salute our Members of Congress who are here, Senators Reid and Bryan and Representatives Bilbray and Vucanovich and Kolbe; coaches, of course, Tara VanDerveer and Jerry Tarkanian. And the athletic directors are with us, Andy Geiger, Brad Rothermel. And I also want to single out a couple from our administration, Mike Boskin and Condi Rice, of Stanford, and Sig Rogich, who was a former regent of the UNLV.

I'll try to cut this down a little, but I've got a lot to say about these guys, all of them -- generic use of the term, I might add. [Laughter] We're here today to honor two great teams out of the West, the final two of the Final Fours, Stanford and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, better known as the Cardinal and the Runnin' Rebels. Well, to put it simply, both teams were awesome.

The Cardinal women's basketball team won a Stanford and PAC 10 record of 32 games -- in all a total of 100 individual and team records broken in this season. So, no one was surprised when Tara VanDerveer was named the Naismith National Coach of the Year. From the very start, she installed this winning attitude so that you all began your seasons, in a sense, as champions. Coach, you've given everyone a reason to be proud down on the farm.

So has Trisha Stevens. I understand that in your career the number 35 has some significance. That's the number of points you keep reaching, game after game after game. [Laughter] And when you came out on the court against Auburn, you set the tone for the rest of that game. And so did Katy Steding. Three must be your magic number, considering the way you bombed the opponents with treys. Julie Zeilstra, you managed to start all 33 games this season as forward despite a problem with your Achilles heels. When the going got tough, you only got tougher.

Let me also recognize Sonja Henning. After your victory over the Lady Tigers, Stanford should light 21 candles in your honor. They say you're one-half of what is considered to be the best backcourt in women's collegiate basketball. So, let me turn, then, to your partner. You know, one of my favorite bands is the Oak Ridge Boys -- [laughter] -- so let me salute an Oak Ridge Lady, a young woman from Tennessee who went to play basketball in Palo Alto only to achieve her greatest triumph in Knoxville, 20 miles from home. It's no coincidence that Stanford senior guard Jennifer Azzi won the Margaret Wade Trophy and the James Naismith Award, the two top honors in all of women's basketball. We welcome you all; delighted you're here.

And now, we'll turn to the UNLV. Let me begin with a salute to the coach, Coach Tarkanian. I'm not saying that "Tark the Shark" has any influence on me, but the next time I'm sweating out a close vote in the Congress, don't be surprised if you see me -- I'll try anything -- chew on a towel. [Laughter]

Towel or no towel, it was the opposition that was shark-bitten. And of course, we should give the Blue Devils their due. You are, after all, the first team to trip 100 in a final.

Stacey Augmon, Stacy Cvijanovich, and David Butler, you duked it out with Duke all the way. And, David, you ought to feel at home today. Anderson Hunt, you kept the Blue Devils behind the Mason-Dixon line and made 12 of 16, to become the MVP of the Final Four. Congratulations!

And then there's Moses. You know the biblical Moses parted the waters with his staff. Moses Scurry could part the Potomac with his rebel yell. [Laughter] And, Larry Johnson, no wonder you're the First Team Consensus All-American. In just half an hour, you racked up 22 points, 11 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 treys. But what impresses me the most is that while you're a probable first choice, you made it clear that you'll go for the B.A. before you go for the NBA.

And, Greg Anthony, I understand you suffered a broken jaw that had to be wired shut during the season. But you played through your pain. As vice chairman of the -- this is a little political pitch here -- UNLV Young Republicans -- [laughter] -- I hope you'll be coming back to Washington some day. And thank you for telling the world that your first priority is education and that you may go on to get an M.B.A. or a law degree. That message has the right kind of impact on kids all across our great country.

And finally, let me congratulate every player in both teams -- those of you on the bench as well as on the center court -- and all the assistant coaches, managers, and trainers: This is your day.

In closing, let me say we're here today to celebrate another kind of championship, the kind of satisfaction that comes not from a fast break or a slam dunk but from the quiet achievement of scholarship and learning. And this is the commitment of so many, from Greg and Larry to Trisha, who aspires to be a doctor, to Chris MacMurdo, with a 3.7 average in human biology, to Stacy Parson, a social psych major who is said to be the team encyclopedia. This is the commitment of the Runnin' Rebels for teaching grade schoolers basic reading skills and geography. In fact, I understand that you'll be making at least one classroom visit here in DC, where David Butler started his schooling, at John F. Cook Elementary.

Just look at your institutions. U.S. News and World Report identified UNLV as one of the up-and-coming schools of the nineties. Little wonder -- it's already one of the fastest growing universities in America. And of course, we're also familiar with the academic tradition of Stanford University. So, whether you study amid the Moorish arches of Stanford or in the modern complexes of UNLV, you're learning that when the cheering has faded and the trophy is up on the shelf you still have something to give back.

Once again, congratulations. I thank you, and God bless you all. Keep up that quest for excellence and the achievement you've all demonstrated so well. We're just delighted you all were here.

Note: The President spoke at 2:19 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Michael J. Boskin, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers; Condoleezza Rice, Director of European and Soviet Affairs for the National Security Council; and Sig Rogich, Assistant to the President for Special Activities and Initiatives.

George Bush, Remarks on Meeting the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Men's and Women's Basketball Champions Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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