Remarks Congratulating the Championship Spingarn High School Basketball Team

March 15, 1985

The President. The way I see it, there's no more fitting way to mark the coming of St. Patrick's Day than by greeting the Green Wave. So, welcome to the White House, all of you.

Students. Thank you.

The President. Well, we're very happy to see and meet our champions, the members of the City High School Basketball Championship Team of 1985 and we congratulate you.

And I can tell you that I know a little more about your victory than you think I do. I've heard about how Anthony Duckett, Emmanuel Jones, and Ernest Hall got together to control the boards; and I know that Robert Smith played with the flu; and I know that Sherman Douglas got 14 points; and I know Melvin Middleton played in spite of an injury that he received in the first play of the game. And I know that you faced a really strong and fine team in DeMatha -- do I have the name right on that?

Coach Wood. You're right.

The President. All right, and that you had to work hard to win. I know all this because Kathy Reid, the wife of Joe Reid, your English teacher, is an assistant to Don Regan here in the White House. And Kathy gave us no peace. We couldn't get any work done in the White House until Spingarn won. So, believe me, on behalf of a grateful nation, I thank you.

We really are proud of you and of all the people who've helped you. I think you ought to be proud of your coach, John Wood, who, himself, graduated from Spingarn. And I hope you thank your assistant coach, Robert Burrell. This ceremony is part of a plot to wean him from his lollipops. [Laughter] We're going to get him on jelly beans. [Laughter] And I congratulate your principal, Clemmie Strayhorn.

You know, the past few years the Spingarn concert choir has sung at the White House during Christmas tours. And the graduates of Spingarn include Michael Graham and Elgin Baylor, Earl Jones and Dave Bing -- that's quite a powerhouse that you've been running, Clemmie.

Spingarn has brought honor to this city. And even though Nancy and I came here just a few years ago -- we liked it enough to ask for a few more, as you know -- we feel like citizens or members of the city of Washington, and we personally feel that you've done us all proud here in this city.

So, thanks, and God bless to all of you, and thank you for coming by to say hello.

Coach Wood. Mr. President, we would like to thank you for the generous invitation that you have extended to the Spingarn basketball team and also the cheerleading staff.

At this particular time, we would like for you to sign a basketball for us, and we will treasure it, this basketball, for a great deal of time.

The President. Any place in particular on here? I've got a pen.

Coach Wood. That will be fine, wherever your signature -- wherever you put it.

The President. Looks like there's room under there.

[At this point, the President signed the basketball.]

Coach Wood. Also, Mr. President, we would like to give to you something we would like for you to cherish -- a picture of the Spingarn basketball team -- --

The President. Thank you very much.

Coach Wood. -- -- and also we would like for you to have a basketball, the basketball that we used to beat DeMatha, and we are extending that to you.

Thank you.

The President. You mean I get the game ball? [Laughter]

Coach Wood. You get the game ball.

The President. Well, thank you very much.

Coach Wood. Thank you.

The President. I'm very pleased with all of this and to have this picture. It's a beautiful -- isn't that the Lincoln Memorial?

Coach Wood. Yes, it is.

The President. Well, that's great.

Coach Wood. It exemplifies academic excellence.

The President. Well, I'm glad to hear that that goes along with basketball.

I must say, I'm glad there's still some here that are along about my height -- [laughter] -- but you all are growing bigger these days. [Laughter] But I'm pleased to have you all come down today.

I had hoped that there was going to be an opportunity -- you could have a little visit -- and I was reading about Reverend Jackson's appearance before your student body the other day, and I thought it was a very wonderful thing that he did with regard to drugs. I thought that was just great.

I did, though, then think that maybe he didn't quite understand our program with regard to aid to education, for college aid. We're not really cutting that back; we're redirecting it a little.

We found out, and we don't think that people with incomes of a hundred thousand dollars a year need your parents and others like them paying taxes to help put their kids through college. They ought to be able to do that themselves. And so what we've done is redirect the aid to people who really can claim a need for having help.

And we've set a cap so we can increase the numbers of -- $4,000 of student aid in the form of jobs, grants, so forth, which is the average across the country, total thing of tuition and fees and room and board and so forth -- all the State colleges and universities in the country.

And, in addition, students would be eligible for guaranteed loans of another $4,000. And we actually will be spending -- I think the figure's around $13 billion on that.

So, I was glad that he suggested that you ask, but I'm sorry that we didn't have the chance to ask, so I just decided to answer it right here for you.

But, again, God bless you, and congratulations. You've really -- 31 straight; that's quite a record. Good luck to all of you.

Students. Thank you.

Reporter. Mr. President, what about [Secretary of Labor] Ray Donovan?

The President. We'll be releasing a statement later on.

Q. Is he leaving, sir?

The President. We'll be releasing a statement later on, Andrea [Andrea Mitchell, CBS News].

Q. What are your feelings about it?

The President. I still have faith and confidence in Ray Donovan.

Note: The President spoke at 2:06 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.