BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — Boca Raton-based Geo Group, the private prison firm that entered into an agreement with Florida Atlantic University for stadium naming rights, has pulled its money in the midst of international controversy.
GEO Group, which is contracted by the federal government to run private prisons — at least one of which is used to detain illegal immigrants — and FAU found themselves in the midst of a public relations nightmare after the agreement was announced. Human rights groups claim that GEO Group violates the rights of detainees.
The school largely remained silent during the ordeal, only stating its thanks to GEO Group for supporting the school's athletic program and subsidizing the new stadium which has yet to be paid off.
That changed Monday evening, however, when FAU issued the following press release:
The GEO Group Foundation has informed the FAUFoundation today that in the best long-term interest of the University, the $6 million gift from GEOGroup Foundation has been withdrawn and the stadium no longer will be named GEO GroupStadium.
“What was originally intended as a gesture of GEO’s
goodwill to financially assist theUniversity’s athletic scholarship program has surprisingly evolved into an ongoing distraction toboth of our organizations,” said GEO Group Chairman and CEO George Zoley. “We employ manyFAU graduates and Boca Raton community members. We take pride in running a well-respectedcompany and are proud of our long-term support of the University.”
The $6 million gift was meant to help advance FAU’s athletic department. The gift was a 12 year commitment with annual payments of $500,000.
“FAU alumnus and Trustee Emeritus George Zoley and his colleagues have been loyalsupporters of this University,” said FAU President Mary Jane Saunders. “We are thankful for all ofthe companies, organizations and individuals who give to this university to support our mission, ourpursuit of academic excellence and valuable contributions to this community.”