As I noted a week ago, the University of South Carolina’s scandal-scarred board of trustees is once again encountering difficulty and division in its search for a new president.
Actually, that is an exceedingly generous assessment of the situation.
A more accurate take?
“Once again, the school’s board of trustees is doing its best impression of a dumpster fire careening out of control into an increasingly unruly rodeo of goats,” I noted.
Sound familiar? It should. The same dysfunctional process unfolded two-and-a-half years ago when a bitterly divided board settled on retired lieutenant general Robert Caslen as the school’s 29th president. Caslen was controversially tapped for the South Carolina job after governor Henry McMaster and his powerful allies on the university board convinced a narrow majority of trustees to vote for him.
That scandal-scarred search process – which enraged students, faculty and staff – nearly resulted in sanctions for the school.
How did Caslen’s tenure end? Not well …
The 68-year-old Connecticut native was forced to resign from his post eight months ago after this news outlet exclusively reported on allegations of plagiarism in a commencement address.
Caslen was also alleged to have been under the influence of alcohol during the address – an allegation he vehemently denied.
To say there has been bad blood between Caslen and the school since he departed (with a six-week severance package, incidentally) is, once again, an exceedingly generous assessment of the situation.
Over the weekend, tensions between Caslen and the school flared up again when one of the general’s sons – Nick Caslen – tweeted out a pair of submissions allegedly sent to his father’s website over the weekend.
“Thought I’d share email gems that were received from a (South Carolina) board member,” Nick Caslen tweeted.
Here are the messages Caslen tweeted …
(Click to view)
(Via: Nick Caslen/ Twitter)
Both messages were sent from an individual using the name and email address of South Carolina trustee Miles Loadholt, an attorney from Charleston, S.C. who was one of the eight trustees who voted against Caslen in 2019.
As you can see, the first message – sent on a Friday evening – was a stern rebuke of Caslen and his sons.
“I hope that Army loses to Navy this weekend because I hate you and want you to be unhappy,” the message began. “But if Army wins I’ll be happy to know that his only happened because you fucking wrecked academic standard(s) at West Point so that you could bring in football talent. You suck.”
Caslen was the superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York from 2013-2018.
The post then proceeds to blast Caslen’s “fail-sons who are probably screening this account” – urging them to get the former president to “spend some of his ill-earned money on paying for therapy sessions.”
“You guys also suck,” it concluded.
The second message – sent the following afternoon – contained an apology accompanied by a request for Caslen’s sons to remove the first message from their social media accounts.
“I wish to apologize for the email I (sent) Friday night,” the second message began. “It was written during a fit of anger, and I should not have sent it. The difficulties I have encountered in trying to recruit the next (South Carolina) president have been very frustrating, and I let my frustrations get the better of me.”
Shortly after these messages appeared on social media, a university spokesman confirmed to this news outlet that Loadholt did not send the messages.
“Those Miles Loadholt emails are NOT real,” the spokesman said. “He did not send either of those.”
“My understanding is there is an open comment form on the former president’s website, and it appears as if someone pretending to be trustee Loadholt submitted a comment,” the spokesman said.
Efforts to reach Loadholt were not immediately successful.
Despite the denials, Nick Caslen claimed the messages were evidence of “why this school has already lost its prime candidate” to succeed his father.
“If anyone has a family member in the running for the (South Carolina) president position and would like to talk about how toxic the place is and the harassment you will receive, my (direct messages) are open!” he wrote.
Caslen’s son Jeff Caslen also rebuked those questioning the authenticity of the email.
“Hey genius: They sent the email through my dad’s website,” he tweeted. “It auto-sends it as an email to an established email account. We have ZERO desire to associate with your school, but you all keep dragging us back in with disgusting attacks and emails.”
As I have previously pointed out, Caslen did little to change the culture at Carolina during his two years on the job – presiding over stagnant academics, backsliding athletics, further liberal indoctrination and all manner of additional taxpayer-funded speculation. That basically perpetuated the policies of his interim replacement, former university president Harris Pastides – whose fourteen-year tenure was marred by tuition increases, skyrocketing debt, rabid political correctness and out-of-control spending on non-core functions of government (including a spectacularly failed “economic development” scheme that set taxpayers back by tens of millions of dollars).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that New York Knights’ lid from ‘The Natural’ pictured above).
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BANNER VIA: The University of South Carolina