University Controversial in 2000 Election Tries to Change Image

After getting caught in the crossfire during the 2000 Republican presidential primary, Bob Jones University is trying to change its racist image by recruiting more minority students.

The university is offering aid to minority students through two funds sponsored by private donations, school spokesman Jonathan Pait said Thursday.

"The primary reason was simply that there were students who wanted to come but couldn't afford it," Pait said. "Another reason is that we're so often pointed out as being so racist. We wanted to take a stab at least to overcome that stereotype."

Right before the 2000 South Carolina primary, Bob Jones, a fundamentalist Christian school, was forced to do some soul searching when it was accused of being racist, anti-Catholic and anti-Mormon.

The spotlight on the school accompanied a visit from then-presidential candidate George W. Bush, who was also criticized for not condemning the school's ban on interracial dating.

Bob Jones III, president of the school and grandson of its founder, dropped the ban, which had caused the school to lose its tax-exempt status in 1983.

The school first admitted black students among its 4,200-student population after the Internal Revenue Service moved to revoke its tax-exempt status in 1970, citing discrimination.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.