Bill Clinton photo

Remarks to the NCAA Men's and Women's Basketball Champions and an Exchange With Reporters

April 27, 1993

The President. Good afternoon. I want to apologize to the people who are here from North Carolina and Texas. I have been inside in a meeting with some Members of the United States Congress of both parties, some of whom are also here in the crowd, talking about the situation in Bosnia. And I got away as quickly as I could. I thank all of you for coming here.

It's a great honor for me as an ardent basketball fan to welcome to the White House two proud new national champions, the Tarheels of North Carolina and the Lady Raiders of Texas Tech, who won the men's and women's NCAA basketball championships.

The Lady Raiders have been stirring things up in West Texas for some time now, with back-to-back Southwest Conference titles, and this year, of course, they brought home Texas Tech's first national championship in any sport. It helps when you have a secret weapon in basketball whose name rhymes with "hoops." No doubt about it, Cheryl Swoopes turned in a tournament performance that was one for the ages. She averaged over 32 points a game and scored 47 points in the final, which is an all-time championship record for men or women in basketball finals. If anybody hasn't figured it out yet, I think women's basketball has arrived.

I'd also like to say that we have to make special mention of the coach of the Lady Raiders, coach Marcia Sharp, who is a four-time Southwest Conference Coach of the Year and who took a wonderful 11-year career at Texas Tech to new heights.

Then there are the Tarheels, one of whom had the grace to remind me that they waxed Arkansas in getting to the Sweet 16. [Laughter] There may not be many things you can depend upon in this world, but normally it is when "March Madness" rolls around, you can be sure that Dean Smith's Tarheels will be there at the final bell, with discipline and style as great as any you will ever see. Nineteen consecutive years in the NCAA, 13 trips to the Sweet 16, 9 times to the Final 4, 2 national championships. Even though I have to admit that I didn't pull for them in every game— [laughter] —I thought they were magnificent, true Carolina Blue champions.

I also want to say a special word of thanks to Eric Montross for not standing on the riser when I walked by. I felt small enough as it was. [Laughter] I want to congratulate him and Donald Williams for the three-pointers that they made, and George Lynch for muscling out his opposition on the inside. As a matter of fact, I was thinking of asking George to stay around here for a few days and help me. [Laughter]

I want to say again that the thing I like about basketball and the thing I think our country needs more of is that you can't just win with great players; you have to have great teamwork. People have to understand each other's strengths and weaknesses and learn to work together in a consistent way. These two teams have done it and have done it magnificently, and it's a great honor for me to welcome them to the White House today.

I'd like to now invite the coaches to come up and say a few words.

[At this point, team members were introduced, and each team presented the President with a basketball.]

The President. I want to invite all the people to come up here, and we'll all take a few pictures and everything. And I thank all of you for coming. I want to take a few minutes; then I've got to go back to my meeting. Thank you very much.

Congressional Meeting on Bosnia

Q. Have you talked to Biden about your decision, or is this just an information meeting?

The President. No. I have not made a final decision yet, and I am consulting with them and giving them a chance to tell me what they think we should do. And I think that's the appropriate thing to do. I've tried to proceed here, as I did in Russia, with bipartisan support. We're having a very good meeting, and I'm going to take a few minutes to shake hands, then go back to the meeting. We're in the middle of the meeting. I have no results to report, but I am just listening to them.

OMB Director Panetta

Q. What do you think about what Mr. Panetta said today?

Q. Are you taking Leon Panetta to the woodshed, Mr. President?

The President. No, I don't need to take him to the woodshed. I need for him to get his spirits up a little. You know, this is like a basketball game. You see, these guys, there were a lot of times that they were in close games; a lot of times they were in close games, they wound up winning.

I just think he's been working 60 to 70 hours a week, and he got discouraged. I need for him to sort of get his spirits up. He's done a wonderful job for this administration. He's got a lot of credibility, and I think every Member of Congress that's ever worked with Leon Panetta would say he's one of the most honest, competent people they've ever worked with. He had a bad day yesterday because he got his spirits down. I want to buck him up; I don't want to take him to the woodshed.

Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 4:45 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.

William J. Clinton, Remarks to the NCAA Men's and Women's Basketball Champions and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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