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No March Madness White House trip for ESPN’s Andy Katz this year

ESPN's Andy Katz watches as President Barack Obama

ESPN's Andy Katz watches as President Barack Obama fills out his 2010 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament bracket in the Map Room of the White House, March 16, 2010. Credit: Pete Souza

INDIANAPOLIS — Andy Katz is here covering the NCAA Tournament for ESPN, as usual. But it has not been a usual NCAA Tournament for him.

For the first time in nine years, he did not spend part of the run-up to the event hanging out with the President at the White House.

Donald Trump declined ESPN’s invitation to fill out a bracket, as Barack Obama had during his two terms in office.

“Everyone may have a different opinion, but to me, because I love history, being in that building, and I was fortunate enough to be there eight straight years, it was pretty cool,” he said.

“I love the history of it, and I loved being at the White House that many times. It was a great run.”

Katz said that there are no hard feelings toward Trump or his staff.

“They were very professional about it,” he said. “I dealt with Hope Hicks, who is the communications director, and she said, basically, he’s not into basketball, doesn’t really follow it, so it wouldn’t really be a great fit.’’

Katz had a sense when he left Obama last March that it might be the end of his White House road, regardless of the outcome in November.

“I thought that was it based on who was likely to be the candidates, and I’d have felt this way had Hillary Clinton won. I don’t know if it would have worked. The way we did it, you needed to have some knowledge [of college basketball].”

Katz still managed to get his D.C. fix when he visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday and had four senators and three congressmen fill out brackets for ABC News digital.

The senators featured were Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, John McCain of Arizona, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

Katz was impressed with the knowledge of those on the Hill, especially McCain.

And as McConnell pointed out to him, a senator from Kentucky “better know what’s going on with Louisville and Kentucky.”

Katz said he was surprised when Obama publicly posted his filled-in bracket for the 2017 NCAA Tournament this past week.

This time he did it without a camera — and without Katz.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t say I missed [doing] it,” Katz said. “It was great.”

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