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GEO Group withdraws naming rights gift for FAU Stadium

By Chip Patterson | College Football/Basketball Writer

FAU Stadium will no longer be named GEO Group Stadium. (USATSI)
FAU Stadium will no longer be named GEO Group Stadium. (USATSI)

After much controversy, the FAU Stadium will not carry the name of GEO Group, the multinational corporation known best for their management of private correctional facilities.

The school announced Monday that GEO Group has withdrawn the $6 million gift to FAU, and the new football stadium, opened in 2011, will no longer be named GEO Group Stadium.

"What was originally intended as a gesture of GEO's goodwill to financially assist the University's athletic scholarship program has surprisingly evolved into an ogling distraction to both of our organizations," GEO Group Chairman and CEO George Zolee said in an official release. "We employ many FAU graduates and Boca Raton community members. We take pride running a well-respected company and are proud of our long-term support of the University."

The announcement of GEO Group's gift, and the naming rights agreement that followed, generated protests across FAU's campus. University president Mary Jane Saunders has been met with picketing outside her office and harassment across campus from protestors who disagreed with FAU's relationship to the private prison company.

The students, faculty, and alumni who voiced their specific concerns often accused the GEO Group of human rights violations at its facilities. When the protests began in late February, President Saunders tried to explain the gift as a way to address the "many fiscal challenges" that face high education. After more than a month of conflict, Saunders thanked GEO Group's CEO for their support.

"FAU alumnus and Trustee Emeritus George Zoley and his colleagues have been loyal supporters of this University," Saunders said in a statement. "We are thankful for all the companies, organizations individuals who give to this university to support our mission, our pursuit of academic excellence and valuable contributions to this community."

So long, Owlcatraz.

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