Ferris State accepts offer to come to the White House Monday

Published 9:05 am Friday, June 9, 2023

BIG RAPIDS — History will be made this coming week as the back-to-back NCAA Division II National Champion Ferris State University football squad has officially accepted an invitation by President Joe Biden to attend a special ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C.

The Bulldogs, who received an invitation from the 46th President of the United States along with First Lady Jill Biden, will become what is believed to be the first NCAA Division II football championship squad ever to be recognized at a special White House ceremony set for Monday in the nation’s capital.

A group of nearly 25 FSU student-athletes, head coach Tony Annese and selected staff will depart on Monday morning for Washington, D.C., with the ceremony slated to take part at 11:30 a.m. on the South Lawn, weather permitting, as part of a “College Athlete Day” honoring several national championship teams from NCAA Divisions I, II and III.

“This is a great honor to have our program and university selected to be recognized at such as historic landmark,” said Annese. “We’re looking forward to the experience and being able to represent our program, institution and community on a national stage.”

It is customary for select NCAA Division I and professional championship teams to receive invitations to the White House. The college football national championship teams in Division I have for years made a spring or summer trip to the nation’s capital. This past month, both the NCAA Division I National Championship men’s and women’s basketball teams, UConn and LSU, were honored in their own special ceremony.

The tradition of sports teams visiting the White House began in 1865. Then President Andrew Johnson hosted the Brooklyn Atlantics and the Washington Nationals of the National Association of Base Ball Players. White House invitations have historically been extended to champions of the Little League World Series, NBA, WNBA, NFL, NHL, NASCAR and MLS, as well as some Olympians.

Outside of NCAA Division I, it’s been a rarity for championship teams to visit the White House. It is believed to have happened twice in FCS football as Bill Clinton invited Youngstown State in 1995 and Donald Trump invited North Dakota State in 2018. The College Athlete Day isn’t completely unprecedented as George W. Bush began a tradition of inviting non-basketball and non-football DI champions to an event each year, but to date no NCAA Division II National Championship team is believed to have ever visited the White House.

The NCAA Division II National Champion Ferris State Bulldogs, which claimed a second consecutive national title this past fall, were previously honored back in March by the state of Michigan during a special visit to the State Capital in Lansing.

This past fall, the Bulldogs captured a second consecutive NCAA Division II National Championship, finishing with a 14-1 overall record. Over the past two seasons of action, the Bulldogs own a 28-1 overall record and FSU has reached the NCAA Division II Playoffs eight consecutive years and counting. Ferris State has also reached the NCAA Division II National Semifinals five times in the past six seasons of action and ranks as the country’s winningest program over the past eight full seasons in D2 Football. FSU is 55-3 over the last three seasons of on-field action.

The Bulldogs are also the country’s preseason No. 1 team heading into the 2023 campaign according to Lindy’s Sports.