Two high-profile Columbians are being mentioned as possible deans of USC's troubled law school -- attorney William Hubbard and former S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster.

Hubbard, a USC trustee, said he has not applied for the post.

But judging from a brief interview with The State, that doesn't mean he is totally uninterested in the position. "I have not applied to be dean of the Law School," Hubbard said. "It is not a position I've aspired to."

But?

"I am unable to say whether I will be a candidate," Hubbard added. "Others have mentioned it to me."

The rumor mill also has been rumbling about McMaster as a possible dean. Asked if he was interested as he was walking through the State House last week, McMaster demurred.

"I have nothing to say," McMaster said, repeating the answer when pressed before walking toward the office of new Gov. Nikki Haley, whom McMaster supported in the Republican runoff for governor after he placed third in the GOP primary.

The current dean of USC's Law School, Walter F. Pratt Jr., said in May that he will step down in August. He earns $254,873 a year as dean.

USC's Law School has dropped in national rankings in recent years, even as its tuition has increased. For a decade, university officials have discussed plans for a new physical home for the law school, but those plans have not come to fruition.

Hubbard said he thinks the university would like to have a new dean selected by the time Pratt leaves.

He said he would not attempt to remain a trustee if he becomes a candidate for the job and is selected. "I would not think that's the right thing to do," he said.

Hubbard, a former chairman of the American Bar Association's House of Delegates, has been a USC trustee since 1986. He was chairman of USC's board from 1996 to 2000.