S.C. State’s plan would eliminate men’s basketball

South Carolina State and guard Karon Wright (32) played at Virginia this season. A budget proposal would eliminate men’s basketball at S.C. State. (AP Photo/Andrew Shurtleff)

A budget plan proposed by South Carolina State president Thomas Elzey would cut the Bulldogs’ men’s basketball team and consider a change in athletic conferences.

Elzey, who was placed on paid administrative leave this week as state lawmakers tackle the Orangeburg school’s financial crisis, released his proposal Wednesday to the Orangeburg Times and Democrat. His plan was discussed by the Board of Trustees’ financial committee on Feb. 16, but has not been approved by the board.

Elzey’s proposal includes the elimination of men’s basketball, women’s softball and women’s soccer, and calls for a “consideration of change in conference affiliation.”

S.C. State has been a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference since 1970. Elzey’s plan does not state which conference S.C. State might consider joining.

The Bulldogs have been playing men’s basketball since about 1920, and have made five appearances in the NCAA Tournament, the last in 2003. This year’s team, coached by former Charleston Southern assistant Murray Garvin, has a record of 10-19 overall and 7-7 in the MEAC.

Elzey’s plan also calls for adding women’s golf and women’s bowling, presumably less expensive sports than softball and soccer. S.C. State spent $64,654 in operating expenses for women’s soccer in 2013-14, and $37,888 for softball, according to Department of Education figures.

S.C. State’s athletic department faces a budget shortfall of $465,452 in 2015-16, according to Elzey’s proposed budget. To make up that deficit, Elzey’s plan calls for:

Reducing the athletic director’s budget by $200,000.

Eliminating the position of development officer to save $109,458.

Reducing the student-athlete book allotment by $80,000.

Not replacing the business manager for a year to save $46,976.

Requesting $30,000 from the STATE Club, S.C. State’s athletic fund-raising group.

S.C. State’s athletic department had revenues of $10.1 million in 2012-2013, according to USA Today, with $6.8 million in subsidies from the school.