Athletics coaches are among the highest travel spenders in SC, a - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Athletics coaches are among the highest travel spenders in SC, a report says

(Source: WIS) (Source: WIS)
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

In 2017, state agencies spent more taxpayer dollars on travel, according to Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom. In fiscal year 2016-2017, there was a $4.6 million increase in travel from the year before.

That brings the total amount spent on things like hotels, meals, mileage, and airfare, to $85.7 million. 

Clemson and the University of South Carolina are the top two spenders, according to the newly released travel report. Eckstrom's office lists Clemson and USC as spending $14,808,002 and $12,602,282, respectively. 

The travel report lists the top 25 travelers by agency, which includes Clemson Football coach Dabo Swinney as the fourth greatest travel spender at the university, at $77,317. USC football coach Will Muschamp is not listed among the school's top 25 spenders on travel. 

A check of these records show athletics coaches are among the highest spenders in nearly every university listed.

The University of South Carolina issues a response, saying: 

Much of the travel undertaken by USC faculty and staff is funded through private grants and athletic revenue, so impact on tuition is minimal. Being the state’s top-ranked international university and one of the nation’s most productive research universities requires forging strong partnerships with Fortune 500 companies and other businesses as well as other academic institutions throughout the United States and around the globe.

We ensure that domestic and international opportunity exists for students and keep close ties with our partners for the safety and benefit of our students. Faculty embark upon groundbreaking research and scholarship to make advances in medicine, rule of law, advanced materials and numerous other disciplines that make everyday life better.

Importantly, travel is also used to raise money to help make up for the continued practice of underfunding higher education in our state. And of course, there is travel involved in recruiting championship-caliber athletic teams.

Clemson University responded to our request for comment, saying: 

Clemson University expends funds for employee travel to meet and enhance its education, research and public service missions. Additionally, it is a land-grant university with a public service mission that spans the state, contributing to higher travel expenses than other state agencies. Clemson has extension offices that serve all 46 counties, and major research centers and innovation campuses across the State which focus on significant research and economic development-related initiatives. 

Several coaches are among the top travelers, and their travel expenses are paid by athletic revenues. Athletics travel is funded by self-generated athletic revenues, primarily from ticket sales, IPTAY contributions, ACC conference distributions, broadcast, television and internet rights, and sponsorships. No State appropriations are used for Athletics travel.  

The president’s travel is funded by self-generated University revenues. No State appropriations are used. 

While much attention is given to the “sticker price” of a college education, Clemson students, on whole, pay far less than full tuition. South Carolina students pay on average about 34 cents on the dollar. This year, Clemson had the smallest percentage tuition increase for South Carolina resident students in two decades.  

The entire travel report is published for any taxpayer to review on the comptroller's site.

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