COLUMBIA, S.C. — The chairman of the University of South Carolina's Board of Trustees says Gov. Henry McMaster did not influence its decision to pick the school's new president. 

John von Lehe Jr. made the comment in a letter to the vice president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Linda Thomas-Glover, regarding the selection of Robert Caslen to lead the school. Caslen was named the president of the school on July 19 after over a week of contentious debate between alumni, faculty, students, and politicians. 

The chairman of the USC Board of Trustees says the board complied with the SACSCOS Principles of Accreditation. 

Back on July 15, Thomas-Glover wrote a letter to the school expressing concerns about USC compliance with the principles of accreditation. Specifically, she questioned if there were any outside influences, which would violate their rules, and asked for a response from the school.  

In his respsonse, von Lehe stated it was his decision to call for the July 12 meeting and the July 19 meeting in consultation with other Board members to consider the election of Mr. Caslen.  

"Following the cancellation of the July 12 meeting due to an issue regarding proper notification to Board members, I then called for a meeting on July 19. In both cases, it was my decision - not the decision of Governor Henry McMaster," Lehe wrote.

Lehe goes on to say that President-elect Caslen was the favored candidate in April, and that he wanted to give the Board the opportunity to vote. 

"I am not aware, however, of a member of the Board being influenced by Governor McMaster's expression of support. Mr. Caslen was the favored candidate in April- prior to the Board receiving any communications from Governor McMaster," Lehe wrote.

The letter contradicts the story of trustee Charles Williams, whom has claimed repeatedly that the Governor pressured a vote on Caslen. 

Lehe believes that each member of the Board voted in favor or against president-elect Caslen on their own judgment. He said they have adhered to the principals of accreditation.

Caslen won 11 to 8, with one trustee voting 'present' instead of for or against the General.

WLTX has reached out to SACSCOC for a response to the University's letter.

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