While all the headlines from the Clemson University football team’s visit to the White House following their National Championship victory were dominated by what types of cuisine were served, a far more interesting story has developed in the weeks since.
According to a report from The Root, some students on the Clemson Tigers football team only attended the White House visit because “they worried that refusing to attend the traditional White House visit might affect their scholarships or playing time.”
Speaking to three separate Clemson Tiger football players — who remained anonymous — the report states that while the coaching staff “didn’t pressure” players into making the trip, it was widely known that a majority of the team’s African American players had no interest in attending.
“Another defensive standout noted that coaches didn’t pressure players to accompany the team to Washington, D.C., but said that almost every black player he knew didn’t want to take the trip,” the report states.
However, that same unidentified defensive student went on to add that he also knew that some players only attended the White House meeting with Donald Trump because they feared not going “might affect their scholarships or playing time.”
Of the 57 black student-athletes on the Clemson Tiger’s football team, only 15 attended the White House. Of those 15 players, only one was a senior.
“Not saying anything against the players who went, but if you look at who went—freshman and people fighting for playing time—you’ll see what I’m talking about,” said one of the players who was interviewed.
That said, all three student-athletes that The Root spoke to individually confirmed that not a single Clemson official pressured them into making the trip.