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DeSantis backs House probe of UCF spending

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis expressed support Wednesday for the Florida House’s investigation into the misuse of state dollars by the University of Central Florida, as the school’s trustees are poised to hold a conference call Thursday to take up the resignation of President Dale Whittaker.

DeSantis backed the decision to investigate university officials linked to the misuse of tens of millions of state dollars, including $38 million in operating funds that were used for a construction project.

The financial scandal has led to the resignation of several university officials, with Whittaker offering his resignation Tuesday.

“We’ll see what happens with that, but I think the Legislature was right to be proactive and protect the taxpayer,” DeSantis told reporters Wednesday at a news conference in The Villages.

DeSantis also told reporters he wants to bolster the status of the state' university system during his time in office, including making sure the University of Florida's ranking among public universities rises to the top five in the nation.

“I’m proud of our system, and I look forward to making sure UCF gets back on track with some of the issues that they’ve had,” DeSantis said.

The UCF trustees have scheduled a conference call at 10 a.m. Thursday to address Whittaker’s resignation and the nominating process for a new board chair and vice-chair.