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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 21, 2002

President Welcomes NCAA Champs to White House
Remarks by the President to NCAA Men and Women Sports Champions
The South Lawn

  Video (Real)

2:00 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Welcome, please be seated. It's a beautiful day to welcome a bunch of champs to the White House. I want to welcome you all, I want to welcome the teams. Thanks for coming.

Thank you, Senators, for being here. I see Senators Dodd, Dayton. I -- Senator Lieberman's on his way, I know that for a fact. I want to thank my friend Johnny Rowland, the Governor of Connecticut here. He told me, he said, the Connecticut women's basketball team is pretty good this year. I said, oh, yeah? He said, no, they're real good. And I said, well, how good? He said, they're going to go undefeated. I said, sure, Governor. Thanks for making me look bad, Johnny. (Laughter.)

Senator Wellstone, thanks for coming, as well, honored you're here.

I want to thank the representatives from the universities. My good friend, Mark Yudof, is here from the University of Minnesota. I want to thank Don Lucia, as well, the head coach of the men's hockey team. I want to congratulate the Minnesota team; you won it in dramatic fashion. And you had to let down your -- change your immigration laws to allow somebody from North Dakota to come in to score. (Laughter.) But it was a great victory.

I want to thank Kathryn Martin and Shannon Miller, from the University of Minnesota-Duluth women's hockey team, for coming back again. It was a repeat performance by a great group of athletes. I want to congratulate you all for winning it two years in a row.

I want to thank and welcome Geno Auriuma. Is that right?

MR. AURIEMMA: Auriemma.

THE PRESIDENT: Auriemma. Okay, fine. (Laughter.) I've never been too good in English. (Laughter.) But he's a heck of a coach, however he says his name. (Laughter.)

I want to congratulate the UConn women's basketball team for an unbelievable season. It -- what great athletes, and were really fun to watch.

And then, much to the delight of thousands of people around here, and many who work upstairs in the White House, the mighty Terps of Maryland are the NCAA Champions. (Applause.) I want to congratulate Dan Mote, the President, and Gary Williams, the Coach. You guys need to know that there's a lot of people that were stepping a little lighter in my family, as well who work in this compound when you won. It was a great feat in an unbelievably tough field. And so, congratulations to you all.

You've now got a -- you showed some things that I think are important for our country, particularly at this time, that if you served something greater than yourself, called a team, you can achieve great things. If you recognize that life is more than just an individual record, that if you recognize there are -- something bigger than an individual accomplishment, you can win. You can win in a broader sense. And to me, that's what these championships mean.

It's kind of what our country has got to do, as well. If we serve something greater than materialism, self-absorption, we can do some great things as a country. Starting with loving our neighbor like we'd like to be loved ourselves; making sure the country is as hopeful and promising as it can possibly be.

As well as the result of being champs -- I mean big-time champs -- you've now got a lot of people looking at you, a lot of kids wondering, how does a champ behave; what does a champ do when they win the crown? It's a great opportunity to set an example for other people, to help people understand they're responsible for the decisions they make in life. You have that chance right now as a champ.

You've been champs on the field and on the courts and on the rinks. Now you can be champs off, and do your country a great service.

It's my honor to welcome you all here. I love championship day at the White House. I love to be around success. I hope you cherish these memories in winning these great championships for a long time coming, and use them as an opportunity to work to make your nation the best it can possibly be.

May God bless your talents, and may God bless America. (Applause.)

END 2:05 P.M. EDT

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