Rep. Anton Gunn, D-Richland, said media reports that say he contacted USC football recruits to inform them about the school board of trustees’ lack of minority representation are erroneous.
Gunn, a former USC football player, was elected to the General Assembly in 2008. Some members of the Legislative Black Caucus, which Gunn is a member, said they have contacted football recruits.
Gunn said, in a statement released today, he has not been involved in the calls and opposes the strategy to call attention to board politics.
"Let me be clear. I am outraged by the erroneous stories appearing in multiple media outlets that depict me as contacting USC Gamecock Football recruits and urging them not to attend the university,” Gunn said. “This is simply not true. I have not in the past nor will I in the future call any USC Gamecock recruits for any reason. I will not play political games with trustees, recruits or with my vote in the South Carolina House of Representatives.
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“No member of the South Carolina House should be playing games with who gets appointed to any Board of Trustees. We should appoint the most experienced and qualified candidates. Legislators currently don't appear to use that criteria when lawmakers horse-trade or when they treat the appointment process like a popularity contest.
"I do believe that the University of South Carolina's Board of Trustees needs to have diversity. It is diversity that makes our colleges and universities great. This diversity should be reflected in the classroom as well as the boardroom."
Lawmakers will elect board trustees next month. The USC board’s lone minority, Rock Hill attorney Leah Moody, is being challenged by another Rock Hill attorney, Alton Hyatt. Rep. Gary Simrill, R-York, is pushing Hyatt’s candidacy. He told the Associated Press he is two votes shy of the votes needed to elect Hyatt.