Legislation to fire seven members of the University of South Carolina’s Board of Trustees is being fast-tracked through the South Carolina House of Representatives.
According to WTLX, the bill is designed to purge the board of bad actors who have presided over a divisive presidential search, exorbitant costs for fired athletic coaches, and mounting litigation against the school.
“It just feels like a continuing, churning set of very volatile and toxic conditions,” said State Representative Kirkman Finlay of Richland County, who sits on the committee responsible for approving college and university board members.
The bill cleared a key legislative deadline known as ‘crossover day’ when legislation not passed in its chamber becomes less likely to be signed into law.
Speaker Jay Lucas introduced the bill and requested it skip committee and head directly to the House floor Tuesday. Finlay said it was crucial for the bill to be fast tracked.
“While it feels like a long time, it’s a complete restructure in 15 months,” said Finlay.WTLX
Described as a dumpster fire by one lawmaker, the hiring and resulting departure of former USC President Bob Caslen was a point of particular contention, and led back to the involvement of Gov. Henry McMaster, who serves as an ex-officio trustee by nature of his elected position.
Gov. Henry McMaster, an ex officio trustee, stepped in and asked board members to hire Caslen, Four trustees who supported Caslen flew to Florida on a university plane to secretly meet him.
McMaster’s involvement, calling each trustee, and his chief of staff sending text messages to trustees like “the Democrats hate us. We took their castle” led to an investigation into the university’s accreditation and changes in how it hires the president.
“That search was a mess,” said Westbrook, adding he apologized to fellow trustees.WYFF
The legislature has recent precedent in dismissing an entire board. In 2015, former Gov. Nikki Haley fired the board at South Carolina State University following mounting incidents of corruption, executive turnover, and financial issues.
The house bill passed by a margin of 113-1.