Criminal Defense Attorney inConverse, SC

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CDH Law Firm: Giving Hope to
Criminal Defense Clients in
Converse, SC

Getting charged with a crime in Converse can be a traumatic experience. Even "petty" crimes can cause an individual's life to fall apart professionally and personally. Spending time in jail is bad enough, but the ramifications of a criminal record run deep, resulting in loss of employment, loss of friends, and even family. For many people, having a zealous criminal defense attorney in Converse, SC, to defend their rights is the only shot they have of living a normal life.

That's why, if you have been charged with a crime, you need the help of a veteran criminal defense lawyer early in the legal process. That's where CDH Law Firm comes in to give you or your loved one hope when you need it the most.

Our criminal defense law firm was founded to help people just like you - hardworking men and women who are looking at diminished employment opportunities and a possible lifetime of embarrassment. But with our team of experts fighting by your side, you have a much better chance of maintaining your freedom and living a normal, productive life. When it comes to criminal law in Converse, we've seen it all. With decades of combined experience, there is no case too complicated or severe for us to handle, from common DUI charges to complicated cases involving juvenile crimes. Unlike some of our competition, we prioritize personalized service and cutting-edge criminal defense strategies to effectively represent our clients.

Criminal Defense Attorney Converse, SC

Clients rank Cobb Dill & Hammett, LLC as the top choice for Converse criminal defense because we provide:

  • One-on-One Counsel
  • Education on the Converse Legal Process and Its Risks
  • Ardent, Effective Representation
  • Commitment to Our Clients and Defending Their Rights
  • Prompt Inquiry Response
  • Robust Experience with Criminal Law Cases in Converse
  • Innovative Defense Strategies
  • Effective, Thorough Research and Investigation

Choosing the right criminal defense lawyer in Converse can mean the difference between conviction and acquittal. Our firm has represented thousands of clients in the Lowcountry, and we're ready to defend you too. Some of our specialties include:

 Law Firm Converse, SC

DUI Cases
in Converse, SC

DUI penalties in Converse can be very harsh. Many first-time DUI offenders must endure a lifelong criminal record, license suspension, and the possibility of spending time in jail. Officers and judges take DUI very seriously, with 30% of traffic fatalities in South Carolina involving impaired drivers, according to NHTSA. Criminal convictions can have lasting impacts on your life, which is why CDH Law Firm works so hard to get these charges dismissed or negotiated down. In some cases, we help clients avoid jail time altogether.

 Criminal Defense Lawyer Converse, SC
When you hire our DUI defense firm, our team will always work towards your best interests and will go above and beyond to achieve the best outcome in your case. Depending on the circumstances of your DUI charges, we will investigate whether:
  • Your DUI stop was legal
  • You were administered a field sobriety test correctly
  • The breathalyzer used was calibrated correctly and properly maintained
  • Urine and blood tests were administered and collected properly

The bottom line? Our criminal law defense attorneys will do everything possible to keep you out of jail with a clean permanent record. It all starts with a free consultation, where we will take time to explain the DUI process. We'll also discuss your defense options and speak at length about the differences between going to trial and accepting a plea bargain.

DUI Penalties in Converse, SC

The consequences of a DUI in Converse depend on a number of factors, including your blood alcohol level and how many DUIs you have received in the last 10 years. If you're convicted, the DUI charge will remain on your criminal history and can be seen by anyone who runs a background check on you. Sometimes, a judge will require you to enter alcohol treatment or install an interlock device on your automobile.

If you're on the fence about hiring a criminal defense lawyer in Converse, SC, consider the following DUI consequences:

Criminal Defense Attorney Converse, SC

First Offense


48 hours to 90 days

in jail

with fines ranging from

$400 to $1,000

Second Offense


Five days to three years

in jail

with fines ranging from

$2,100 to $6,500

Third Offense


60 days to five years

in jail

with fines ranging from

$3,800 to $10,000

Additional consequences can include:


Alcohol or Drug Treatment

When convicted of DUI in South Carolina, most offenders must join the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program. This program mandates that offenders complete a drug and alcohol assessment and follow the recommended treatment options.

 Law Firm Converse, SC


Community Service

Some first-time DUI offenders in Converse may choose to complete community service in lieu of jail time. Community service hours are usually equal to the length of jail time an offender would be required to serve.

 Criminal Defense Lawyer Converse, SC

Sanctions to Your Driver's License

Typically, when a person is convicted of driving under the influence in Converse, their driver's license is restricted or suspended. The length of restriction or suspension depends on how many prior DUI convictions an individual has.

First DUI Offense

First-time DUI offenders must endure a six-month license suspension. Drivers convicted with a blood-alcohol level of .15% or more do not qualify for a provisional license. However, sometimes they may still drive using an ignition interlock device.

Second DUI Offense

Offenders convicted of a second DUI charge must use an ignition interlock device (IID) for two years.

Third DUI Offense

Offenders convicted of a third DUI charge must use an ignition interlock device (IID) for three years. That term increases to four years if the driver is convicted of three DUIs in five years.

Immobilized Vehicle

For offenders with two or more convictions, the judge will immobilize their vehicle if it is not equipped with an IID. When a judge immobilizes a vehicle, the owner must turn over their registration and license plate. Clearly, the consequences of receiving a DUI in Converse can be life-changing, and not in a good way. The good news is that with CDH Law Firm, you have a real chance at beating your charges and avoiding serious fines and jail time. Every case is different, which is why it's so important that you call our office as soon as possible if you are charged with a DUI.

Traffic Violation Cases

Most drivers brush off traffic law violations as minor offenses, but the fact of the matter is they are criminal matters to be taken seriously. Despite popular opinion, Traffic Violation cases in Converse can carry significant consequences like fines and even incarceration. If you or someone you love has been convicted of several traffic offenses, your license could be suspended, restricting your ability to work and feed your family.

Every driver should take Traffic Violations seriously. If you're charged with a traffic crime, it's time to protect yourself and your family with a trusted criminal defense lawyer in Converse, SC. Cobb Dill Hammett, LLC is ready to provide the legal guidance and advice you need to beat your traffic charges. We'll research the merits of your case, explain what charges you're facing, discuss your defense options, and strategize an effective defense on your behalf.

Common Converse
Traffic Violations That CDH Law
Firm Fights

There are dozens and dozens of traffic laws in Converse, all of which affect drivers in some way. Our Converse defense attorneys fight a full range of violations, including but not limited to the following:

Criminal Defense Attorney Converse, SC
  • Driving Under Suspension: If you drive while your license is suspended, revoked, or canceled, you could be looking at 30 days in jail and fines up to $300.
  • Driving Under the Influence: Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated on drugs or alcohol is illegal and often results in jail time and fines.
  • Reckless Driving: You could be ordered to pay up to $200 in fines or jailed for up to 30 days if you drive with wanton disregard for the safety of other people.
  • Racing: You can be cited and fined if you aid or participate in street racing.
  • Hit and Run: When you leave the scene of an accident that involved injury to another party, you can be arrested. This serious charge can lead to up to one year in jail and fines of up to $5,000 for first-time offenders.
  • Disregard Traffic Signals: Drivers must obey all traffic signals and control devices, less they be ticketed and sometimes fined.

As seasoned traffic violation lawyers, we know how frustrating it can be to get charged with a Traffic Violation. While some traffic charges can be minor, others are severe and can affect your life for years to come. Don't leave your fate up to chance call CDH Law Firm today for the highest-quality Traffic Violation representation in Converse.

Juvenile Crime Cases in
Converse, SC

At Cobb Dill Hammett, LLC, we understand that children are still growing and learning about the world around them. As such, they may make mistakes that get them into trouble with the law. Children and teens who are arrested in Converse can face much different futures than other children their age. Some face intensive probation, while others are made to spend time in jail.

This happens most often when a child's parents fail to retain legal counsel for their son or daughter. Cases referred to the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice often move quicker than adult cases, so finding a good lawyer is of utmost importance. With that said, a compassionate criminal defense attorney in Converse, SC, can educate you and your child about their alleged charges. To help prevent your child from going to a detention center, we will devise a strategy to achieve favorable results in their case.

 Law Firm Converse, SC
 Criminal Defense Lawyer Converse, SC

Juvenile Detention Hearings

Unlike adults, juveniles don't have a constitutional right to a bond hearing. Instead, once your child is taken into custody a Detention Hearing is conducted within 48 hours. This hearing is similar to a combination of a Bond Hearing and a Preliminary Hearing. Unfortunately, there is little time to prepare for these hearings, which is why you must move quickly and call CDH law firm as soon as possible.

Our team gathers police reports, petitions, interviews your child at the DJJ, speaks with you about the case and talks to the prosecutor to discover if they have plans for detention. In most cases, we strive to avoid detention and seek alternatives like divisionary programs or treatment facilities. This strategy better addresses your child's issues and keeps them out of the juvenile legal system in Converse. If your child is charged with a crime, and South Carolina decides to prosecute, your child will appear before a family court judge, who will find them delinquent or not delinquent. There are no juries in juvenile cases in South Carolina, which is why it's crucial to have a lawyer present to defend your child if they go in front of a judge.

Common penalties for juveniles charged with crimes in Converse include:

Criminal Defense Attorney Converse, SC
  • Probation: Children charged with probation are released to their parents or guardians. Depending on their charges, they must abide by certain stipulations while at home and may be subject to random drug screenings. Violation of probation often results in jail time.
  • 90 Days in Juvenile Detention Center: When probation is not a viable option, prosecutors may push for 90 days of jail time in a juvenile detention facility.
  • Juvenile Detention: Children who commit very serious crimes can be sent to a juvenile detention center for a long time. These sentences can last up to the child's 21st birthday.
  • School Expulsion: When a child is convicted of a crime, their school is notified of the offense. Sometimes, the administration may decide to expel the child from school for the misdemeanors or felonies they commit.

We Fight to Protect
Your Rights So You Can
Provide for Your Family

Whether you are facing a DUI charge or a serious traffic violation, CDH Law Firm is here to fight for your rights so you can continue living life. The future might seem bleak, but our criminal defense lawyers in Converse, SC, have the tools, experience, and strategy to win your case, as we have with so many others. Don't lose hope call our office today and maintain your freedom tomorrow.

Ask us anything

Call Now 843-936-6680 PH

Latest News in Converse, SC

Oscar-winner Marlee Matlin to lead program at Converse, visit SC School for Deaf and Blind

Academy Award-winning actor Marlee Matlin will headline a program of story, dance and song at Converse University to celebrate the beginning of Women’s History Month.The program at Twichell Auditorium is at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 1. Matlin’s message is titled “Nobody's Perfect: Achieving Inclusion, Diversity and Access.”Matlin was the first deaf performer to win an Oscar in 1987 for her debut movie role in “Children of a Lesser God.” In 2022, she starred alongside the se...

Academy Award-winning actor Marlee Matlin will headline a program of story, dance and song at Converse University to celebrate the beginning of Women’s History Month.

The program at Twichell Auditorium is at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 1. Matlin’s message is titled “Nobody's Perfect: Achieving Inclusion, Diversity and Access.”

Matlin was the first deaf performer to win an Oscar in 1987 for her debut movie role in “Children of a Lesser God.” In 2022, she starred alongside the second deaf performer to win the award, Supporting Actor winner Troy Kotsur, in “CODA,” which won Best Picture at last year's Academy Awards ceremony.

Matlin has had numerous film and television roles over her career and is the author of four books, including an autobiography, “I’ll Scream Later.”

She has also been a champion for closed captioning access on TV and broadband Internet and for authentic representation of deaf characters, including in “CODA.” She made the casting of a deaf actor opposite her a condition of her participation in the film.

"A lot of people forget that diversity also includes deaf and disabled people," Matlin told People Magazine. "I'm still seeing lack of representation, whether you're talking about in magazines, or online, or on television, or in film. I still feel we've got to remind people constantly."

In addition to the program at Converse, Matlin will visit the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. Converse’s special education program for deaf and hard-of-hearing students has a professional development partnership with SCSDB.

The evening event is presented by Spartanburg-based Determined to Soar, a non-partisan, nonprofit group whose goal is to celebrate women’s achievements and educate, inspire and unify the next generation of leaders.

The group is led by Valerie Barnet, Nancy Corbin, Louise Fagan, Robyn Hussa Farrell, Julia Lyons and Sabrina Richardson.

Tickets are available from the Converse University Box Office and are $35-$100 for the public with tickets for seniors and students available for $20.

Converse University Names Logan Simpson New Head Coach of Swim Programs

Courtesy: Converse AthleticsSPARTANBURG, S.C. – Converse University Senior Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator Jodi Strehl announced the hiring of Logan Simpson as the new head coach for the swim programs at Converse.“I am excited to welcome ...

Courtesy: Converse Athletics

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Converse University Senior Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator Jodi Strehl announced the hiring of Logan Simpson as the new head coach for the swim programs at Converse.

“I am excited to welcome Logan Simpson to our athletic department as our head men’s and women’s swim coach,” Strehl said. “His knowledge of swimming, wide range of experience and his desire to build a competitive program are all characteristics which will serve him well. We are fortunate to call Logan a Valkyrie and our men and women will be the recipients of Logan’s passion for delivering a fantastic student-athlete experience.”

“First, I want to thank Dr. Hopkins, Jenn Bell, Jodi Strehl, Randy Loggins and the whole Converse athletic department for the opportunity to lead this great program,” Simpson said. “This is a homecoming for our family, and we could not be more excited to get to Spartanburg. Throughout the interview process, I was blown away, not just with the ambitious vision they laid out for Converse Athletics and the Valkyrie swim program, but the plan to realize those ambitions. Converse Swimming has a rich history of excellence, a roster of talented student-athletes, and an unbelievably bright future for both the women’s and men’s swimming programs. I can’t wait to get to work.”

Simpson has spent the last two seasons building the men’s and women’s swim programs at Columbia College (S.C.). Last season the Koalas finished inside the top-five of the Appalachian Athletic Conference. At the AAC Championships, the 200-yard freestyle relay team and the 400-yard medley relay team both finished third overall.

As the head swim coach, Simpson was also tasked with starting a men’s program from the ground up at Columbia College. This coming will be the first official season for the Koalas men’s program. Simpson also created a $50,000 comprehensive facility upgrade plan for the Greer Natatorium and it was implemented this past May.

Prior to Columbia College, Simpson was the head coach of the Carolina Aquatics Swim Club. During his time as head coach, Carolina Aquatics moved from 11th at the South Carolina State Championship meet to 5th in the state. The club also finished 15th at Senior Sectionals under his leadership. Over the course of his tenure, Carolina Aquatics boasted numerous state championship performances, senior and age group sectionals finalists, a junior National’s qualifier and three seniors who signed Division I scholarships.

Prior to his head coaching stint at Carolina Aquatics, Simpson was the Associate head coach at Palmetto Aquatics. Simpson has also served as a volunteer assistant coach for the University of South Carolina. At USC, Simpson was given the opportunity to learn from world-class coaches and work with elite athletes at the SEC, NCAA and Olympic levels. The experience encompassed preseason dryland training, staff meetings, assisting swim practices, leading practices for non-travel swimmers and coaching on deck at home meets.

Before his arrival in Columbia, Simpson worked for Gardner-Webb University as the Assistant Director of Athletics Fundraising. Simpson worked to develop a sport-specific fundraising initiative that yielded a $25,000 fundraising increase for teams across campus.

Prior to his job at Gardner-Webb, Simpson was an assistant swim coach at Wabash College in Indiana. While at Wabash, Simpson spent time as interim head coach and led the team in its season-opening meet against Denison, the second ranked team in the nation. That season, Wabash finished with a winning record and a top-25 national ranking in NCAA Division III.

Simpson was a collegiate swimmer for Gardner-Webb University and eventually began in coaching career as a member of the women’s basketball coaching staff.

Simpson has always been around the pool; his father Mike was the head coach at Gardner-Webb before becoming an assistant coach at both South Carolina and Auburn Universities.

Simpson holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Gardner-Webb and an MBA from the University of South Carolina. Simpson and his wife Hannah will be making the move to the Upstate.

Converse University Announces Six Newcomers To Women’s Team For 2023-24 Season

Courtesy: Converse AthleticsSPARTANBURG, S.C. – Converse University head swim coach Logan Simpson announces the addition of six swimmers for the upcoming season.“I am incredibly excited about this class,” Simpson said, “From a swimming standpoint, each swimmer is poised to make a big impact from day one. It is one of the fastest recruiting classes in p...

Courtesy: Converse Athletics

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Converse University head swim coach Logan Simpson announces the addition of six swimmers for the upcoming season.

“I am incredibly excited about this class,” Simpson said, “From a swimming standpoint, each swimmer is poised to make a big impact from day one. It is one of the fastest recruiting classes in program history, but I am equally excited that we are bringing in six quality people who are going to contribute positively to our team culture. With the great group we have returning and these six newcomers, there are exciting things on the horizon for Converse Women’s Swimming.”

Kayle Buss is making her way to Spartanburg from down the road in Simpsonville, S.C., where she competed at Woodmont high school. Buss is originally from Minnesota and competed for the Riptide Swim Club before joining Y-Spartaquatics in South Carolina. While at Woodmont, was a top-15 qualifier in the state for 5A and was also a top-5 qualifier for regions. Holds records in the 200-free, 200-medley relay and the 100-breaststroke events. Concluded high school as an All-5A Region selection. During her club career, made it to the Speedo Sectional Cuts and the State Cuts. Also, holds a National Relay Record, won the athlete of the year award and the sportsmanship award. Outside of swimming, was on the honor roll every year since sixth grade, Principles honor roll and Academic Honor Roll.

Sofiya Gobora is the lone transfer in this year’s signing class. Gobora is transferring from Stonehill Gollege which is part of the Northeast Conference. While at Stonehill, Gobora was a two-time NEC Shovel Swimmer of the Week and a three-time NE-10 Weekly Honor Roll member. Gobora set the school records in the 100 IM, 200 IM, 400 IM, 100 backstroke, 200 backstroke, 200 free relay, 800 free relay, 200 medley relay and the 400 medley relay. Originally from Sarasota, Fla., Gobora was a four year letter winner and team captain of the swim team. Swam club for the Sarasota Sharks and the Tsunami Swim Club.

Ember Hill is coming to the Hub City from Salida, Colo., where she was a four year letter winner and team captain of the Salida high school swim team. While in high school, Hill placed inside the top-10 of the 100-yard breaststroke event all four years at the CHSAA 3A State Championships. Hill also swam for the Salida Cyclones Swim Team and set Colorado Season State Records in the girls 15-18 50-yard breaststroke, 50-yard burtterfly and the 100-yard breaststroke. Hill was the Seasonal State Highest Point Scorer in 2016, 2018 and 2022. During the 2022 campaign, Hill won the state championships in 8 out of 10 events including the 50 and 100-yard fly events, the 50, 100 and 200-yard breaststroke events, 1,000 free event, the 200 IM and the 400 IM. Hill also has an athletic family, her mother Tracey played tennis and ran cross country and track at Jacksonville State in the mid-1990s, her uncle Mark Wilder played tennis at the University of Alabama (1982-85) and her other uncle Joel Wilder played tennis at Jacksonville State (1990-92).

Laureen Roussel is from Fontenilles, France where she swam for Lycee Polyvalent Raymond Naves, Us Colomiers Natation and ASPTT Toulouse Natation. Was captain of the high school swim team and helped her team to a runner up finish and a third place finish at the national championship in consecutive years. Holds four club records, participated in 12 national championships and participated in the gymnasiades. Won the French championship in the Nationals two event. Outside of swimming was a delegate during high school and graduated with her baccalaureate with honors.

Kaitlin Williams makes her way to Converse from Sharpsburg, Ga., where she competed for East Coweta high school and the Summit Family YMCA Titans. A four year letter winner at East Coweta, Williams was a state finalist and MVP of her team. For her club, she holds the record in the 500 free, 1,000 free and the 1,650 free events. Williams was a team captain, state qualifier, won the coaches award, team spirit award, the honesty award and had an award named after herself. Outside of swimming, held the second highest overall French GPA, was a member of Beta Club, National Honors Society and French National Honor Society.

Ansley Young is coming to Spartanburg from Marietta, Ga., where she was a two sport athlete at Wheeler high school. Young holds the school records in the 100 fly, 200 free, 400 free and the 200 medley relay events. Young finished her high school career as a team captain and MVP. Young swam for the Stingrays Swim Club and made the Futures Cut in the 100 fly event (57.41). Young helped her club team to a top-three finish at state and swam the fly leg of the girls 400 medley relay GA LCM State winners. Outside of athletics, was part of a team that won first place at the Cobb County Film Festival and won Best Actress for her role in the film, frequent blood donor and honor roll student in high school. Young comes from an athletic family, her father played golf at the University of Georgia.

For all the latest news and information on the Converse University swim program, log onto today.

Laon Kim has certainly taken to his new training environment at the University of Calgary Swim Club.

On Sunday night, Kim wrapped up at the Canadian Swimming Championships in style with a monstrous performance in the 200 freestyle, winning the boys’ 14-15 age group by over five seconds in a time of 1:49.62 to become the youngest Canadian ever under the 1:50 barrier.

Kim, who only recently turned 15, rockets past UCSC teammate Paul Dardis (1:52.15) for being the fastest 15-year-old Canadian ever, and also moves into the top spot in the 15-16 age group (Canadian age group records are recognized for 15-17s).

All-Time Canadian Performers, Boys’ 15-16 200 Freestyle (LCM)

Kim is now within a second of the 15-17 National Age Group Record, which has been on the books for 14 years after Etobicoke’s Hassaan Abdel-Khalik clocked 1:48.74 in 2009 during the super-suit era.

All-Time Canadian Performers, Boys’ 15-16 200 Freestyle (LCM)

In May, Kim set a new National Age Group Record for 13-14 boys in a time of 1:52.39, but since aging up, he’s already been faster four times.

Prior to last week, he went 1:52.18 at the Mel Zajac Junior International in Vancouver in early June, and then at the Canadian Championships, he led off UCSC’s record-breaking 800 free relay in 1:51.08. That was followed by a preliminary swim of 1:51.24 on Sunday morning before his big performance in the final.

(Splits for Kim’s 13-14 NAG record are unavailable, so we’re using the splits from his swim at the Canadian Trials in the spring, which stood as the record for a little less than two months, in the chart below.)

Split Comparison – Kim

Canadian Trials (April) Mel Zajac (June) Canadian Champs Relay Canadian Champs Prelims Canadian Champs Final
26.22 26.15 25.69 25.67 25.53
54.69 (28.47) 54.47 (28.32) 53.58 (27.89) 53.70 (28.03) 53.91 (28.38)
1:23.62 (28.93) 1:23.28 (28.81) 1:22.32 (28.74) 1:22.51 (28.81) 1:22.21 (28.30)
1:52.82 (58.13) 1:52.18 (28.90) 1:51.08 (28.76) 1:51.24 (28.73) 1:49.62 (27.41)

Looking beyond Canada, Kim’s time appears to be the seventh-fastest globally we’ve ever seen from a 15-year-old, though the data may be missing some swims. The fastest that USA Swimming has on record is the 1:48.21 produced by American Maximus Williamson at the 2022 Junior Pan Pacific Championships last summer.

To further drive home the magnitude of Kim’s swim, he would’ve won the 16-18 (1:49.96 winning time) and 19 & over (1:49.64 winning time) age groups on Sunday in Toronto.

Over the last month or so, Kim has been training with the University of Calgary Swim Club (UCSC) after he opted to change training bases from Hyack, where he’s been brought up, to experiment with a bigger environment prior to next season.

He has made no long-term commitments regarding where he’ll train next year, but it’s clear things have been working out in Calgary.

In addition to his win in the 200 free, Kim also picked up individual golds in the 50 free (23.01), 100 free (50.39), 400 free (3:59.31) and 800 free (8:18.07), while his splits played crucial roles in the UCSC boys breaking NAG records in both the 400 and 800 free relays.

Kim’s time in the 100 free made him the fastest 15-year-old in Canadian history, while in the 50 free, he improved on his mark of 23.18, having already held that distinction after his swim at Mel Zajac.

SC’s last all-women colleges go coed sooner than planned amid pandemic

Jimmie Sanders has moved around a lot. His dad is an executive with Domino’s, the pizza chain, and with each promotion came another move for the family — North Carolina, Illinois, Arizona....

Jimmie Sanders has moved around a lot. His dad is an executive with Domino’s, the pizza chain, and with each promotion came another move for the family — North Carolina, Illinois, Arizona.

So it’s not a big stretch for him to have gone to college in three places — Virginia, Alabama and now Spartanburg — always looking for the next opportunity to hone his basketball skills.

This story is a subscriber exclusive

Sanders, 22, had the opportunity to work with a coach he long admired. But he is also aware of the focus on him as one of the seven men admitted as undergraduates, for the first time, to Converse College last fall. They are seven men among the 700 undergrads on campus, and their ranks will soon be growing as the college pushes forward with coeducation for the first time in its history.

Converse, founded 132 years ago, held out a long time as an all-women’s college since the first rumblings of the need to become coeducational began a decade or more ago. At least one former president proclaimed it would never happen on her watch.

But the trend is clear. Since the 1960s, when women’s colleges hit their peak, the number has dropped and then dropped again. Then: 280 women’s colleges in the United States. Now: about 30.

Columbia College in the state capital made the same shift, admitting men as undergraduates for the first time last fall. And, like Converse, Columbia pushed its integration a year ahead of schedule due to the effects of the coronavirus on colleges.

Converse President Krista Newkirk said the numbers make the case for going coed. On the SAT college entrance exam, 2% of high school girls nationally said they would consider an all-women’s college. On the ACT it was worse — less than 1%.

“That was a wake-up call,” Newkirk said.

Rising expenses and decreasing enrollment have combined to put financial pressure on all women’s colleges.

The pandemic has made it worse, said Emerald Archer, executive director of the Women’s College Coalition and director of the Center for the Advancement of Women at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles.

Still, Archer said, even as women’s colleges become rarer, they play an important role in higher education because the focus on women’s leadership carries over into a graduate’s entire life.

“It’s also worth noting that many women’s colleges and universities serve a large percentage of low-income and minority students,” she said.

Situated in the northwestern corner of South Carolina, Spartanburg is a community grown from frontier trading post to textile mills to a major manufacturing center with a BMW automotive manufacturing plant at its southern entrance along Interstate 85.

With a population of 37,000 in the city, 310,000 in the surrounding county, it has five colleges, three of which, like Converse, are four-year schools.

Two of them, Converse and Wofford College, still have at their core the buildings and green expanses of their founding more than a century ago. For many years, Converse and Wofford were considered sort of companion schools — small, private, single-gendered liberal arts colleges that not infrequently saw their students graduate and get married.

Converse Trustee Laura Bauknight, a 1987 graduate, was one of them. By the time her husband, John, attended Wofford, his once all-male school had admitted women. Bauknight, though, was happily living among the 700 or so female students on Converse’s still single-gendered campus.

Originally from Sumter, she said she knew from the night she spent on campus as a high school student that Converse was her place. It grew from there. Close friendships, academic challenge, a beautiful campus; she felt motivated as a leader.

So it was not wholly her desire for the school to become coed when the trustees began researching other previously all-women’s colleges to see what worked and what didn’t. Trustees began research in 2019 and announced their decision in February 2020.

“I took pages and pages of legal pad notes,” Bauknight said.

It was clear after Bauknight’s committee visited Mary Baldwin University and Randolph Macon College, both in Virginia, that a coed Converse could be more, not less.

The main points she took away from other schools that had transitioned were to be transparent and don’t dawdle. Once the decision is made, do it.

As the Converse community began seriously discussing gender integration, Bauknight said she and other college leaders answered every email, attended town halls and talked, but mostly they listened. Some longtime friends did not hold back their opinions.

One simply agreed to disagree.

But, Bauknight said, it came down to this: Finances built on an enrollment declining over time were unsustainable. They needed to expand the school’s pool of students, not continue to limit it.

Newkirk, Converse’s president, said a key element to the coed transition would be establishing a women’s college within the school, much like an honors college. It would offer some classes just for women but would focus more on retreats and other special programs on leadership, Bauknight said.

It also would be a place to retain the tradition of “Big Sis, Little Sis,” a program that pairs juniors with freshmen to help navigate the new world of college. A more gender neutral but similar program would be established for the school as a whole.

What to do about traditions was taken up by its own committee. The bracelet ceremony, during which sophomores are given bracelets to honor the school’s core values, could feature a watch instead. May Day, held each year to honor scholars, leaders and community servants, could name both a king and a queen to the May Court, Bauknight said.

Discussions like these are still underway, college spokeswoman Holly Duncan said.

“My biggest concern was the classroom experience,” Bauknight said, calling her own experience in the classroom “powerful.”

She feels the professors will make the adjustment because they are committed to being in their student’s lives. The feeling of community is strong, she said.

As of now, the men will live together in one dorm. Whether women will live in the same dorm depends on enrollment, Duncan said.

Another significant change for the school as a whole will come this summer when Converse College becomes Converse University.

Newkirk said the name better reflects the scope of what the school offers. Graduate programs, which have always admitted men (who lived off-campus), were established in 1964 and have grown to offer master’s degrees in education, leadership, liberal arts, music and family therapy. Doctoral programs are offered in leadership and education administration.

Converse coaches are working to fill new men’s team rosters for basketball, soccer, track and field, cross country and tennis, which will play in the Division II Conference Carolinas.

Newly hired men’s basketball coach Ryan Saunders said while he expects his team to be competitive, his mind is focused on character. He said that is especially important considering his team will be the first male undergrads living on campus.

Jimmie Sanders and another player have been on campus this school year; the rest will arrive in the fall.

Sanders said it’s been exciting to be the first and to be part of developing a new team. They are literally starting from scratch.

“We had to go out and buy basketballs,” he said.

Coach Saunders said the rims on the side baskets in the school’s gym had to be replaced to account for dunking.

Among his 10 signed players are one from powerhouse Dorman High School, a local team, and two others from Charleston.

He’d like to have 24, which would enable him to have a developmental team.

The seven men enrolled last fall will grow to almost 90 when school begins in August. And not all are athletes.

Steven Greer chose Converse because with the pandemic he wanted to stay close to his Wellford home. Plus, class sizes were small, and he could continue to hone his skill on the viola. He’s not a music major but expects many people he knew from playing in his high school symphony to be drawn to Converse’s Petrie School of Music.

He lived in a dorm during the fall semester but moved into his parents’ house for the spring because of the cost and the pandemic.

Asked whether men’s sports might overshadow the long history of women’s sports at Converse, Saunders said he doesn’t think that will happen. On the contrary, he thinks recruiting female athletes will be easier. The talent pool will expand among women who would not previously consider attending an all-women school.

He expects the team to retain the name Valkyries, which in Norse mythology is a group of female figures sent to battle by Odin, the god, to choose who lives and dies.

“That’s who we are,” Saunders said. “It’s tradition, history. We’ll wear the logo with pride.”

This story was originally published February 11, 2021, 5:00 AM.

Converse College: Struggling? Or Thriving?

Converse College is a private liberal arts institution located in Spartanburg, S.C. that offers undergraduate degrees to women and co-educational graduate programs. The school made news last year when it celebrated its 125th anniversary by slashing tuition costs by 43 percent (to $16,500) in an effort to “solve America’s college affordability issues.”“Converse is the first institution in South Carolina to make such a move and among only 10 institutions in the nation to do so since 2012,” ...

Converse College is a private liberal arts institution located in Spartanburg, S.C. that offers undergraduate degrees to women and co-educational graduate programs. The school made news last year when it celebrated its 125th anniversary by slashing tuition costs by 43 percent (to $16,500) in an effort to “solve America’s college affordability issues.”

“Converse is the first institution in South Carolina to make such a move and among only 10 institutions in the nation to do so since 2012,” the school noted at the time.

The school claimed to have “reworked its operating budget” to accommodate the reduced tuition – while maintaining an 11-to-1 student-faculty ratio.

“We heard families’ concerns about the rising price of college and we committed ourselves to finding a sustainable solution,” the school’s president, Betsy Fleming, said. “We now want to start a new conversation in higher education—one that focuses on real value in terms of both quality and cost.”

Did it work?

It’s not immediately clear. Sources at the school tell us Converse is currently facing a “multi-million dollar deficit” due to the tuition cuts and that Fleming’s administration is “painting a rosy outlook despite a concerted effort to slash costs.”

“The cost reductions seem to be a smoke screen for a ten-year pattern of mismanagement and malfeasance by the current president and administration,” one source tells us. “There may also be reason to question the use of funds in various specified endowments.”

School officials don’t seem too concerned about those reports. Last month, Converse welcomed 300 new students to its campus – a fifteen percent increase in enrollment from the previous year. That puts the school’s total undergraduate enrollment at more than 835 students – a 25 percent increase over the last four years.

The school also boasted a “20 percent increase in gifts over the previous year,” and unveiled several new academic and athletic facilities built with private gifts.

Hmmmm …

Of one thing there can be no doubt: Tuition costs are out of control in South Carolina (particularly at government-run schools), so it’s nice to see one institution attempting to ease the burden on parents and students while preserving core capabilities.

Oh, and speaking of core capabilities, it’s nice to see a school doing its job as opposed to … well, not.

Converse will rise (or fall) based on the free market. Unlike the government-run schools … which will continue to bleed taxpayers dry no matter how well or how poorly they perform.

Which brings us back to our fundamental point: Higher education is not a core function of government, and all thirty-three of South Carolina’s state-supported institutions of “higher learning” should be immediately freed to pursue their destinies in the private sector.

It’s time to embrace competition – not perpetual subsidization.


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