WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush praised a diverse assembly of college sports champions on Monday, from the University of Florida men's basketball team to the UCLA women's water polo team.
In all, 28 teams that won NCAA championships during 2006 and 2007 were honored on the White House South Lawn.
Bush kept his comments to a spare eight minutes. That offered some relief to those gathered in the scorching heat — and to the president himself, who struggled through his speech in a gravelly voice.
"You've distinguished yourselves on fields and fairways, tracks and tennis courts, rivers and rinks, pommel horses and pools, bowling alleys, mountains and basketball arenas," Bush said. "You have one thing in common: You have achieved the great title `Champion,' and nobody can take that away from you."
The championship teams spanned eight athletic conferences, 14 states and 21 campuses. The sports included bowling, cross-country running, fencing, field hockey, gymnastics, lacrosse, volleyball and tennis.
Bush praised the athletes for being good students and leaders. "For those of you who follow presidential politics, you know I'll be around one more year," Bush said. "I'm looking forward to having you come back."