By Sam Cooper
Many Clemson football players opted not to make the trip to the White House earlier this month after the team’s national championship victory over Alabama, including a significant portion of the team’s black players.
The Root reported Tuesday that just 15 of the Tigers’ black players (there were 57 on the 2018 roster) visited the White House on Jan. 14, where the team was served an array of fast food in a bizarre visit with President Trump that went viral on social media. Some players who decided not to go to the White House cited “racism” and “disdain for Trump’s divisive politics,” The Root’s report states.
The Root spoke with three black Clemson players who each separately confirmed that many players, both black and white, had no interest in making the trip. All three acknowledged that Donald Trump was the reason they chose not to attend.
The players who spoke with The Root all said the school’s coaches and administrators did not pressure the players to visit Trump’s White House. Most of the black players who attended, one player said, did so to avoid jeopardizing future playing time. Of the 15 black players who attended, 11 were freshmen, the report says.
In total, 15 of the University’s black players listed on the school’s official roster attended the White House visit, the vast majority of whom (11) were freshmen or sophomores who had very little playing time during the season. Just one senior made the trip and only six of the players in attendance were even listed on Clemson’s national championship depth chart. There are at least 57 black student-athletes on Clemson’s official team roster, which means 74 percent of Clemson’s African-American players chose not to make the trip to the White House.
A Clemson spokesperson said that 76 players — “approximately two-thirds of the team” — made the trip with some staying behind for “a variety of reasons,” including some who had already graduated and no longer had academic obligations at the school.
“For a variety of reasons, several players were not able to adjust schedules to make the trip. On the championship game roster, 26 players had already received their bachelor’s degree, and had no planned obligations on campus beginning that week,” Clemson associate vice president for strategic communications Joe Galbraith told The Root. “Other student-athletes had class obligations as the spring semester began the week prior.”
For some Clemson players, it was the second trip to the White House. Previously, the team was honored by President Trump in the summer of 2017 after the program’s previous College Football Playoff title game triumph past Alabama at the end of the 2016 season.
The players who made the trip this year were treated to a fast food spread because of the government shutdown that left much of the White House staff away on a furlough. Trump said he paid for the food himself.