FAU stadium won’t be sponsored by correctional facility group

By BOB FERRANTE
There was an escape from Owlcatraz after all.
GEO Group chairman and CEO George Zoley, a Florida Atlantic alumni, announced Monday evening that he would pull back on the controversial $6 million naming-rights deal for the Owls’ football stadium.
The GEO Group runs private correctional facilities and immigration centers at which there have been allegations of human rights abuses, protesters said. A group of students opposed the naming rights deal, and the faculty senate at FAU also voiced its disapproval of the deal, the Palm Beach Post reported.
FAU’s deal with GEO Group also was criticized in the national media and, memorably, by Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report.”
“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 ongoing distraction to both of our organizations,” Zoley said in a news release. “We employ many FAU graduates and Boca Raton community members. We take pride in running a well-respected company and are proud of our long-term support of the University.”
Zoley, however, has pledged $500,000 to FAU for academic scholarships, the Palm Beach Post reported.
The original pledge of $6 million over 12 years was accepted in mid-February and approved by the school’s Board of Trustees.