House sends Senate new plan for firing S.C. State trustees

COLUMBIA — The House passed a new proposal to oust S.C. State University’s trustees on Thursday, offering the Senate a compromise on who would replace the board overseeing the debt-ridden school.

The House and Senate have each approved firing the embattled university’s board, but differed on who would take over running the state’s historically black public college and try to turn around its finances.

The House’s latest plan, which passed unanimously, would replace the board with seven trustees appointed by lawmakers with oversight of colleges and the five-member Budget and Control Board, which includes Gov. Nikki Haley.

One member each would be appointed by the governor, state treasurer, comptroller general and the chairmen of the Legislature’s budget-writing committees. Two more would be picked by the House Higher Education and Technical Colleges Subcommittee and the Senate Finance Higher Education Subcommittee.

That represents a blend of previous proposals. The House originally wanted the Budget and Control Board to take control of the heavily indebted school, while the Senate wanted a new board appointed by lawmakers and Haley.

The school’s debt has been mounting for years and repeated requests to the Legislature for bailouts resulted eventually in a threat by lawmakers to shut down S.C. State. Facing being fired themselves, trustees fired the school’s president, Thomas Elzey, in March. Elzey, a former administrator at The Citadel, sued afterward claiming breach of contract and asking for more than $400,000.

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The bill now returns to the Senate, which will meet next on Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.