GEO Group withdraws FAU naming rights, 6 million dollar gift

BOCA RATON, Fla. - UPDATE:

The GEO Group Foundation has informed the FAU Foundation today that in the best long-term interest of the University, the $6 million gift from GEO Group Foundation has been withdrawn and the stadium no longer will be named GEO Group Stadium.

Read the statement below:

"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," said GEO Group Chairman and CEO George Zoley. "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."

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 loyal supporters of this University," said FAU President Mary Jane Saunders. "We are thankful for all of the companies, organizations and individuals who give to this university to support our mission, our pursuit of academic excellence and valuable contributions to this community."

EARLIER STORY:

Students protesting the new name of FAU's football stadium were denied a meeting with university President Mary Jane Saunders Monday.

Controversy over a $6 million donation from the Geo Group to name the stadium for 12 years brought the students to the administration building around noon.

"They say it's a done deal, but I believe it can be changed," says Arely Baugh, a senior at FAU.

Baugh was one of more than 40 protesters turned away from the administration building, twice.

At least 25 faculty members don't like the name Geo Group either, unsettled over accusations that the company treats inmates improperly. The Faculty Senate voted in March against the new stadium name.

That vote won't change anything, but professors hope it sends a clear message to the President and Board of Trustees.

"Many things have changed in society because people continue to resist the notion that it's a done deal," says FAU Professor Gail Burnaford.

President Mary Jane Saunders told us on Friday a faculty representative on the Board of Trustees, Dr. William McDaniel, voted in favor of the naming.

"The reality is a faculty member voted yes," says President Saunders.

But professor Burnaford wonders given the backlash, if some Board of Trustee members would vote differently now.

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