In a move that has shocked many people, Florida Atlantic University has announced that they have reached a deal to rename their football building to the GEO Group Stadium. Why so shocking? The GEO Group is a private prison corporation that has been in the center of the controversy surrounding the privatization of prisons due to numerous accusations of human rights abuses, lawsuits, and reports of the unnecessary deaths of inmates in their custody. The company has also openly been opposed by civil liberty and human rights groups, and has been cited by government regulators losing a series of high-profile lawsuits.
The obvious reason for this partnership, like any other naming rights agreement, is the $6 million dollar gift (the largest in school history) the company will pay the institution over 12 years.
“We are incredibly grateful for this wonderful gift,” said FAU President Mary Jane Saunders. “It is so exciting to now have a name for our beautiful stadium, and I couldn’t think of a better way to do that than by way of philanthropy. This gift is a true representation of The GEO Group’s incredible generosity to FAU and the community it serves. It is especially meaningful because George Zoley, GEO’s chairman, is a two-time FAU alumnus and former chair of our Board of Trustees.”
“We use no state money to run our athletic program,” she said. “It’s important for us to use our naming rights to fund the stadium and fund scholarships.”
The NCAA has backed off of the controversy surrounding this stating that the decision was made with no NCAA involvement.
This naming begs the question…at what point do we draw the line? Due to the incredible sums of money that collegiate sports bring in, universities are now being run more as companies than institutions of higher learning.
The fact that FAU would name something that so prominently represents the University after a company with such obviously questionable morals, shows exactly where the over all values of the university lie.