By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
April 5, 2013
For-profit prison operator GEO Group has withdrawn its $6 million gift for the naming rights to Florida Atlantic University’s football stadium after becoming too much of a distraction for the company and the school. The agreement had received widespread criticism since being announced, having been mocked on late night TV shows and being protested against by FAU students and faculty.
As the public pressure mounted, it became increasingly obvious that the naming rights deal wouldn’t last. Rather than spend the money on naming rights, GEO Group’s CEO, a former FAU trustee, is pledging $500,000 to academic scholarships this year. Unfortunately, losing the deal means the school’s athletics department is left scrambling to find money. FAU has a $2 million annual debt expense for the stadium, and a $2.75 million conference realignment bill for switching from the Sun Belt to Conference USA.