Prison Company Scraps Stadium-Naming Gift at Florida Atlantic U.

A private prison company that donated $6-million to Florida Atlantic University in exchange for the naming rights to the university’s football stadium has withdrawn the gift after weeks of public outcry, The Palm Beach Post reported.

Florida Atlantic students and others had loudly protested the deal, which would have renamed the facility GEO Group Stadium. That company has come under scrutiny in recent years for alleged human-rights abuses in prisons and immigrant-detention centers that it operates. The university’s Faculty Senate also opposed the arrangement.

In a written statement on Monday, the university said the company had withdrawn its gift “in the best long-term interest of the university.” The company’s chief executive, a Florida Atlantic alumnus and a former chairman of the university’s Board of Trustees, said what had been intended as a gesture of good will had “surprisingly evolved into an ongoing distraction to both of our organizations.” The stadium will no longer be named for the company, the university said.

Members of a student group called the Stop Owlcatraz Coalition, which had protested the deal, declared victory after the announcement. The firm’s chief executive pledged $500,000 to the university for academic scholarships in lieu of the stadium deal, according to the newspaper.

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