“Today we’re here to celebrate a Louisville team that always played hard, that always worked together, that stayed focused on one singular goal, and that is to bust my bracket,” Obama said.
“This year I was close,” he continued. “I had the Cardinals in the title game, but I guess I doubted the motivational power of making your 60-year-old coach promise to get a tattoo if you win. We’re not going to ask Coach to show it at the White House, but I have to hand it to you, Coach. You did not chicken out. You kept your word and in return you got something that will stay with you forever—a shirtless picture of you on the Internet. That will never be erased.”
Joking aside, the president recounted the team’s athletic accomplishments that led to its national champion title. He also commended the players’ academic and service accomplishments.
Using Kevin Ware’s suffering a compound leg fracture in the NCAA Elite Eight game against Duke as a symbol of the team’s spirit and resilience, Obama noted that team members also show those characteristics in the classroom, where they have a cumulative GPA of almost 3.3, and in the community where they are involved in fundraising and service.
“I want to thank everybody with the Cardinals organization for their outstanding performances, their leadership and their contributions not just to Louisville, not just to Kentucky, but to the entire country,” Obama said. “Congratulations on the national title and, from what I’ve seen in the preseason polls, we might see you back here at some point.”
Coach Rick Pitino presented Obama with a red Louisville Slugger baseball bat and a UofL basketball jersey.
“This is a tremendous capping-off of an unbelievable season,” he said.