The College of Charleston's presidential search committee did not include Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell on the list of five recommended candidates that it forwarded to the school's Board of Trustees, according to sources with close ties to committee members.
But that doesn't mean McConnell is out of the running for the school's top post.
One of those sources said McConnell was among the search committee's top 10 candidates, but he was not on the committee's final list of five candidates.
The college's board ultimately will decide on the school's next leader, who will take over for George Benson when he steps down in June.
The board doesn't have to limit itself to the search committee's recommendations. It could consider candidates that aren't on the committee's list.
Search committee and board members contacted by The Post and Courier said they had signed confidentiality agreements and could not comment on the process.
And College of Charleston Board Chairman Greg Padgett sent a campuswide email Friday assuring people the presidential search process has been conducted appropriately. "Any reports to the contrary are inaccurate and should be ignored," Padgett stated.
McConnell, 67, announced in January that he would end his decades-long career in politics and concentrate solely on pursuing the presidency at the College of Charleston.
He could not be reached for comment Friday, after multiple attempts to contact him at his office or on his cellphone.
McConnell, a 1969 graduate of the college, was elected to the state Senate in 1980 and served for 32 years, the last 11 years as president pro tempore. He was one of the most powerful men in South Carolina, but state law last year required him to move into the lieutenant governor's office when Ken Ard resigned after being indicted for ethics violations.
The college's 15-member search committee met Feb. 7 and 8 to interview its top 10 candidates. Then, on Monday, it forwarded the list of its top five candidates to the college's board.
The board met Tuesday to discuss the candidates but adjourned for the day without releasing a list of finalists for the job. It hasn't yet scheduled its next meeting to review candidates.
State law requires the board to release the names of those in the final pool of no fewer than three candidates. But it doesn't require the search committee to release its list of candidates.
The college's presidential search committee was made up of board members and representatives from the school's faculty, staff, student body, alumni, athletics department and foundation board. Padgett appointed members to the committee.
The college hired the national search firm AGB Search to assist the search committee. The college will pay the firm $70,000 plus expenses. The money will come from the College of Charleston Foundation.
More than 100 people applied for the job.
It's been a busy month at the college. In addition to the school being engaged in a presidential search, some state lawmakers have filed a bill to merge it with the Medical University of South Carolina to form a more comprehensive research university in Charleston.
Speculation that McConnell wasn't among the search committee's selections, which was posted Thursday by a Columbia blogger, raised confidentiality concerns for the MUSC's Board of Trustees.
MUSC also is searching for a new president.
At the university's board meeting Friday, Chairman Tom Stephenson said that the names of candidates under consideration to become MUSC's next president must be kept confidential.
To ensure that the names are not leaked, only members of the presidential search committee - not the full Board of Trustees - will have access to an early list of candidates, he said.
"You've seen what's happened at the College of Charleston." Stephenson told members of the board during the open meeting that a rumor has been circulated that McConnell, who has been openly discussed as a candidate for president at the College of Charleston, had not been included on a list of candidates for the full College of Charleston board to consider. But he could not verify if the rumor was true.
Lauren Sausser contributed to this report. Reach Diane Knich at 843-937-5491 or on Twitter at @dianeknich.