SC State approves tuition hike, proposes cuts to athletics programs

Published: Jun. 26, 2014 at 12:25 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 5, 2014 at 6:02 PM EDT
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ORANGEBURG, SC (WIS) - The South Carolina State Board of Trustees were unable to pass their proposed budget after meeting for roughly seven hours to hash out their issues.

The university remains without a balanced budget with lingering bills that will cost millions of dollars that need to be paid.

"It's no secret that we're under some financial discomfort from years and years and years of accumulated deficits," university trustee Katon Dawson said.

After being placed on probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, trustees worked to put together a balanced budget facing an anticipated drop in both enrollment and revenue.

"We cannot do it by cutting," university President Thomas Elzey said. "Grow our way out of it and raise money. Those are two ways of being able to improve our overall financial position and help us address these deficits that we're facing."

In April, university officials said the school did not have enough money to cover payroll and utility bills, and asked state lawmakers for nearly $14 million. The university got a $6 million loan. Before asking legislators for another $7 million, the school will have to balance its budget.

However, Dawson believes a that even a few students can make a big difference.

"It's tremendous," Dawson said. "It's tremendous. For your budgetary items, a hundred students is a million dollars for every hundred students and it's tremendous."

Facing a major shortfall, the school began to look at cuts they could make and other options to decrease that number.

Trustees approved a tuition increase of 3.2 percent for in-state students and 5 percent for out-of-state students. Trustees also proposed a food fee increase that could be as high as $974, the elimination of Felton Laboratory School, cutting back on funding for the I.P. Stanback Museum, and 14 furlough days for employees across the board.

The budget proposed trustees Wednesday also did not include funding for the men's basketball team or the women's golf team. The Lady Bulldogs' golf team would only be suspended, but the men's basketball team would be cut altogether making an impact on the school's athletics department as well.

"That's an ongoing program that, right now, has a big budget number in it," Dawson explained, "and we're having to look at every program: football, basketball, the arts, and everything, the museum. We're having to look at it all from the Budget Committee standpoint and crunch the numbers and get down to a realistic balanced budget."

Should the university decide to cut the men's basketball team, it would cost SC State more than $700,000 because of exit fines from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Plus, the school could lose more money by cutting basketball and another sport putting them below the NCAA threshold of 14 programs to be a Division I athletics program.

University representatives said overspending and declining enrollment led to the budget problems. Now, the school must come up with a new budget before the fiscal year begins July 1.

"The seeds have been planted for next year, so we're looking and optimistic about moving ahead this year and recognizing that the bad news may not help us this year, but as everyone knows, the admissions process is a multi-year effort," Elzey said.

Schools officials will try to pass a balanced budget against sometime next month.

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