S.C. State University's accrediting association removed the school from its warning list Tuesday, one year after questions were raised about the school's finances and operation.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools had warned S.C. State that it could eventually lose its accreditation if it did not clarify that the university president - not its board of trustees - should have fiscal control over athletics and fundraising.
Tuesday's action - announced during a meeting of SACS in Atlanta and expected to be formalized with a letter to the university and a posting on the association's Web site on Monday - was a boost to S.C. State, which has struggled to cope with reductions in state funding and tried to allay concerns that the school already had lost its accreditation.
"The lifting of this sanction will provide opportunities for S.C. State as it seeks to increase enrollment and enhance the educational quality of the institution," S.C. State president George Cooper said in a news release.
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Cooper was attending the SACS meeting and is expected to address the warning list removal as well as other topics during a news media roundtable scheduled for today at S.C. State.
University officials stressed Tuesday that the school never lost its accreditation.
Indeed, being placed on the warning list last year was the first step in what could have been a long road to S.C. State having its accreditation pulled.
SACS president Belle Wheelan said then that the school's accreditation would be pulled only "if we feel we're being completely ignored."
Cooper said the school took SACS' warning seriously.
The university made several policy and personnel changes in areas that had drawn SACS' attention.
An football game in Charleston - seen as an important fundraising opportunity by former board chairman Maurice Washington and as a questionable move by some of his colleagues - was canceled.
The board of trustees, criticized by some prominent alumni as unresponsive to their suggestions, underwent some changes.
The General Assembly elected Robert M. Nance was elected a trustee. His father, Maceo Nance Jr., was president of S.C. State for almost two decades.
Nance works on the staff of U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, a powerful alum who had not been happy with the direction of the university in recent years.
Nance's election came before the SACS warning but after alumni questioned the university's leadership.
Wheelan said Clyburn's public concerns about the university played a big role in the association's decision to place the school on the warning list.
Efforts to reach Clyburn on Tuesday were unsuccessful.
Washington's successor as chairman, Lumus Byrd Jr., was replaced by Jonathan Pinson, a move fellow board members said would take the university's leadership in a different direction.
And in a pair of voice votes in October, the board voted to make clear that the president will coordinate and implement fundraising activities for the university and have ultimate responsibility for the school's athletic programs.