The Florida Board of Governors could jeopardize Florida State University’s accreditation if it considers Richard Corcoran for the university’s president while Corcoran remains a member of the state university system’s governing board.

Belle Wheelan, president of Florida State’s accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, sent a letter Thursday to Sydney Kitson, chair of the Florida Board of Governors, outlining a potential conflict of interest for Corcoran.

Corcoran — who currently serves as Florida’s education commissioner and is the former speaker of the state House of Representatives — cannot be considered for the presidency while he remains on the state board without violating SACSCOC’s rules, according to Wheelan.

“I’m concerned that if he doesn’t step down from his position on the Board while he is a candidate for the position, since it is the Board of Governors that will be hiring the President, the SACSCOC Board of Trustees will find the institution out of compliance,” Wheelan wrote.

Wheelan also said that the news of Corcoran’s consideration for the role triggers an automatic inquiry from the accreditor.

“Anything that is reported in the media that suggests that the institution might be out of compliance with any of our Principles of Accreditation (Principles) triggers our Unsolicited Information Policy and an inquiry from the Commission,” she wrote.

She went on to explain the risks of jeopardizing the public university’s accreditation.

“This not only brings bad press to the institution(s) and the possible loss in enrollment and donations, but it endangers the institutions’ access to federal financial aid,” Wheelan wrote.



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