Stanford’s Secret Recruiting Weapon: Condi Rice?

Look, you may have your opinions about waterboarding, Gitmo, illegal wiretapping, the war in Iraq and offenses against human rights, the U.S. Constitution and international law. But damn it, if Condoleezza Rice is going to bring blue-chip athletes to Stanford University, then she is to be welcomed back with open arms.

Condoleezza Rice

In a rather remarkable paragraph in his fine story on Rice and her relationship with the Stanford Athletic Dept., Jon Wilner of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS tells of how the former Secretary of State for the Bush administration lifts weights with athletes on campus, and is an assistant coach of the women’s golf team. And how she’s drawing in those football recruits, the Condi Way.

Rice is currently on her third tour duty at Stanford, this time as a political science professor and the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution. But she is also a rabid sports fan: If you’re a stud high school football player considering Stanford for your higher education, don’t be surprised if you’re accosted by Rice at some point during your visit to The Farm.

Tai-Ler Jones was one of the top high school football players in the country when he visited Stanford last spring.

At the time, he was more interested in attending traditional college powerhouses like Notre Dame and his home-state University of Georgia, as well as Cal and UCLA.

Three days later, Jones committed to play for Stanford — thanks in considerable measure to the words of a political science professor whose last job was at the White House:

Condoleezza Rice, the Stanford athletic department’s secret weapon.

“She heavily influenced my decision,” said Jones, who will enroll in 2010. “How many colleges can say they have a Condoleezza Rice, and that she can be a mentor to you? It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me.”

OK, nice. But this is the paragraph in the MERCURY story that caught my eye:

Although her duties have changed, Rice’s love for Stanford sports has not waned. Whether it’s meeting with recruits, lifting weights alongside athletes before dawn, attending games or serving as a volunteer assistant coach for the women’s golf team, she’s a passionate member of the Stanford athletic community.

And the Stanford community is passionate about her as well!

On May 3, members of the April Third Movement (A3M) from the Vietnam War protest era nailed a memo to the university president’s office door, demanding that Stanford sever relations with Rice. The former students who led the fight 40 years ago to dislodge Stanford University from the War in Vietnam were joined by faculty, students, and peace activists from the local community who added color to the protest in Raging Granny regalia and orange jumpsuits with black hoods. A3M leader Marjorie Cohn, now president of the National Lawyers’ Guild, said, “By nailing this petition to the door of the president’s office, we are telling Stanford that the university should not have war criminals on its faculty.”

And don’t worry about Rice violating any NCAA recruiting rules. The university can always just classify it as “enhanced interrogation.”