ORANGEBURG, SC (WIS) - Homecoming expenses at South Carolina State University declined more than $87,000 from 2013 to 2014 during President Thomas Elzey's tenure. However, to welcome Elzey and his wife to the university, more than $150,000 was spent.
SC State's financial turmoil has made headlines for weeks now leading ultimately to the university's Board of Trustees placing Elzey on paid administrative leave last month. State legislators have also been creating bills recently to get rid of the Board of Trustees and help combat the university's financial struggles.
We first investigated SC State's homecoming expenses in 2013 when the university spent more than $350,000 on its 2011 event. Evidence of that spending came about when former Board Chairman Jonathan Pinson was indicted on corruption charges in January 2013. Authorities reported Pinson shared in a $60,000 kickback scheme for a 2011 homecoming concert.
Majority of the 2011 homecoming expenses went to performers: $80,000 to singer Charlie Wilson; $70,000 to rapper Young Jeezy; and $40,000 for Crisette Michelle, Ace Hood and the rapper known as Future.
After filing a Freedom of Information Act request with SC State, it was discovered that for the 2013 homecoming event, $162,913.14 was spent to host the event, which included another homecoming concert totaling $152,579.84 of the event's expenses. The artists included Tank, Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh and Yo Gotti. Students received free entry to this concert; however, non-students had to pay $5.
SC State reported $13,795 in total revenue for concert sales for 2013's homecoming and $1,292 for a comedy show that cost the university $250 to host.
Other high-cost expenses for Homecoming 2013 totaled $8,537.30 for a game night, talent show and a "Back in the Day Buffet" event in the school's dining hall.
For Homecoming 2014, the university spent $75,256.72 and made $1,360 in revenue. SC State hosted another concert and comedy show, which cost $48,237.65. The artists included Count Basie Orchestra to salute Johnny Williams, a 1958 alumnus; and Dom Kennedy and BJ the Chicago Kid. There was a day party at the Student Center Plaza that cost more than $15,000 during homecoming week.
Elzey started as SC State's 11th president June 15, 2013. To welcome him and his wife, the university had a First Lady's luncheon that cost $24,351. Under a FOIA request, WIS obtained information that shows the university raised $16,827 from ticket sales, sponsors and donations for the First Lady's luncheon as part of the inaugural activities. However, no money was raised or received for Elzey's inauguration ceremony and reception, which cost $127,448.
Majority of the funds for the inauguration events went toward catered meals, which totaled $8,561 for the First Lady's luncheon and $41,093 for the inauguration. Other costs for the inauguration ceremony and reception included $5,007 for overtime and shift differential payments; $9,095 for advertising; $20,946 for printing; and $34,130 for rental items.
Before coming to SC State, Elzey worked as executive vice president for finance, administration and operations at The Citadel. He admitted to WIS early on that he knew he was walking into a university covered in controversy and financial issues.