The majority of the black football players on Clemson University’s national championship-winning team reportedly did not attend the celebration reception that President Donald Trump laid out for the squad at the White House.
The Root exclusively reported Tuesday that only 15 black players out of the 57 on the team’s official roster attended the event on Jan. 14, which made headlines after Trump served fast-food due to the partial government shutdown.
Some of the squad’s black athletes reportedly cited Trump’s “divisive politics” and racism” as their reasons for skipping the buffet.
The publication stated that three black players also “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.” Most of the team’s white players did attend, however.
“It wasn’t like we had a team meeting or anything,” one player told the website. “Players were talking amongst each other but everybody was like, ‘I’m not going to that.’”
The Tigers’ coaches did not exert pressure on any athlete to attend, according to The Root. But one player suggested that some squad members took part only to avoid jeopardizing their scholarships or future playing time.
A representative for Clemson appeared to attempt to play down the report, however. Joe Galbraith, Clemson’s associate vice president for strategic communications, said in an email to The Root that 76 student-athletes, which is “approximately two-thirds” of the entire team, were in attendance.
“For a variety of reasons, several players were not able to adjust schedules to make the trip,” Galbraith claimed. “On the championship game roster, 26 players had already received their bachelor’s degree, and had no planned obligations on campus beginning that week. Other student-athletes had class obligations as the spring semester began the week prior.”