UC Irvine is reportedly wooing President Barack Obama to give the school's 2014 commencement address, possibly at Angel Stadium.
And school administrators apparently think they've got a secret weapon to make this happen: Mamadou Ndiaye, at 7-foot-6 the tallest collegiate basketball player in the nation and the star of a video invitation to the commander-in-chief. You know, Senegalese to Kenyan.
The Orange County Register broke this story and--surprise, surprise!--it's not behind a paywall so we'll link to it, just like we used to when everything was free to read online.
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Anyway, the strategy is that Obama, a basketball fan who played on his high school varsity team in Hawaii in the 1970s (or was it in Kenya, Orly?), will be intrigued enough by the offer from Ndiaye to come on down. Plus, he can bundle the weekend with one of those giltzy invite-only Hollywood fund-raisers to pay down his campaign debt, build his presidential library fund and/or make connections for his future afternoon talk show.
A UCI faculty member is scheduled to fly to D.C. in the next couple of weeks to hand deliver the Ndiaye video, which also shows the rest of the Anteaters' basketball squad shooting hoops (You want some of this, Barry?).
Also hoped to be along for the ride will be mailbags stuffed with postcards and letters from UCI students and alumni requesting the president's presence at the June 14 commencement. Cathy Lawhon, a UCI spokeswoman, reportedly told the Register that the goal is to have 10,000 requests, 8,000 of which are in hand now.