WASHINGTON – President Bush, honoring 15 champion college athletic teams Tuesday, received a bevy of gifts in return, including a surfboard and a Speedo he playfully said he won't wear — "in public, that is."
The athletes took team photos with Bush in the White House, then paraded onto the South Lawn for a brief speech in which the president recognized the accomplishments of each team in winning the NCAA title. The players at times cheered loudly at a mention from Bush, and he lightheartedly admonished them. "It's the South Lawn. Behave yourself," he said.
Bush stood before all 15 teams, sitting in folding chairs on the lawn. Their team captains stood up front with the president, clutching the gifts they brought. The Speedo came from the Auburn men's swimming and diving team and what Bush called "Surfboard One" came from the Pepperdine men's volleyball team.
Bush congratulated the athletes not only for their victories, but for community service projects including mentoring children or volunteering at hospitals. "You have a responsibility as a champ, not only to win contests for your respective schools and set personal goals and achieve them, but I think you have a responsibility as a champ to set a good example," he said.
Other teams honored included UCLA men's and women's water polo and men's tennis; University of Georgia men's golf, women's swimming and diving and women's gymnastics; Northwestern University's women's lacrosse; University of Michigan women's softball; Stanford women's tennis; University of Minnesota women's hockey; Duke women's golf; Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse; and Oklahoma men's gymnastics.