Black lawmakers, angry that the General Assembly could refuse to reappoint the University of South Carolina's lone black trustee, said some of the school's star athletic recruits have been called and apprised of what lawmakers described as the state's racially inhospitable climate.
"This is a state that continues to fly the Confederate flag (on the State House grounds), and now, out of 20 elected and appointed board members, can't see fit to put a single African-American member on the board," said state Rep. Todd Rutherford, a Richland County Democrat and a member of the Legislative Black Caucus.
Rutherford would not say who has made the calls, nor would he say which athletes have been contacted. But the possibility that athletes could be dissuaded from attending the university in football-crazy South Carolina ignited a strong response from the public and lawmakers, some of whom support white Rock Hill lawyer Alton Hyatt Jr. for trustee over his black opponent, fellow Rock Hill lawyer Leah Moody.
"This is not an issue about race," said state Rep. Gary Simrill, R-York. "I'm supporting my constituent, who is well-qualified to be on the board."
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