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June 11, 2014

White House visit still unscheduled for FSU

It's an annual tradition: win a title, visit the White House. But Florida State's football team has yet to make the trip to Washington D.C.

As of June 10, more than six months after the Seminoles' national title run, the school and the White House have yet to agree on a date for a visit. Sources within the athletic department say that FSU has suggested a number of dates, but the White House has been unable to make the schedule work. President Obama did call FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher shortly after the national title game.

What's doubly frustrating for Florida State is that the White House hasn't had the same problems scheduling visits from other national champions. UConn's men's and women's basketball teams both visited the White House on June 9, and the Seattle Seahawks brought their Super Bowl rings to Capitol Hill on May 21.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the inability to schedule the visit with FSU.

Even if the visit does get scheduled, it'll be difficult to get everyone on board. Most of FSU's NFL-bound players are in the middle of OTAs and scattered across the country. Some players still on the roster are not on campus for the summer or busy with workouts of their own, and the coaching staff is preparing for and running summer camps this week and in July.

While the President's schedule is understandably packed, one factor in the delay might have been Jameis Winston's schedule with the FSU baseball team, which ruled out many spring weekends.

Another possible factor is the controversy surrounding Winston and FSU's football team. Winston's sexual assault investigation last year didn't result in any criminal charges, but it was easily one of the most controversial issues in college sports in 2013. It's also sparked a federal Title IX investigation into the school's handling of the accusations, which is still ongoing.

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President Obama has been a vocal proponent of Title IX, specifically with regards to sexual assault. He recently issued a public service announcement on sexual assault and a White House task force published a report on how to prevent sexual assault just two weeks ago. The Federal Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights currently has also been active under Obama, opening more than 50 Title IX investigations into colleges and universities across the country.

National Champions visiting the White House became common practice starting in the 1980s, mostly because of NCAA restrictions on paid travel limited trips before then. Even with relaxed travel restrictions, football champions didn't regularly visit the President until late in the 1980s.

A late visit to the White House isn't unheard of - Auburn didn't visit until June 8 in 2011. But, in the BCS era, every national champion has visited the White House at some point. And Auburn's June visit is the only one that happened later than April. Mike Enright, communications representative for the University of Connecticut, declined to comment beyond saying it is always an honor to visit the White House. The University of Connecticut has made regular trips to the White House for both its men's and women's basketball teams in recent years.

Florida State NEWS


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