University system chancellor Frank Brogan on FAU ‘Owlcatraz’ deal: ‘No winners’by Dara Kam | April 4th, 2013
Florida State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan, a former president of Florida Atlantic University, said there were “no winners” in FAU’s now-defunct stadium-naming deal with GEO Group.
The Boca Raton-based private prison company this week withdrew the $6 million donation it made in exchange for naming rights to the school’s football stadium, ending weeks of protests and negative publicity for the school. Critics dubbed the deal “Owlcatraz,” a reference to the university football team’s nickname, “The Owls.”
“Clearly there’s no winners. The GEO Group that thought they were making a good faith donation is not a winner. Florida Atlantic University that thought they were accepting a donation in good faith that was going to go to something important to the university is not a winner. So you end up back where you started,” Brogan, caught inside the Capitol Thursday afternoon, said.
The school’s board of trustees accepted the pledge Feb. 19, and president Mary Jane Saunders supported the decision. Those events touched off demonstrations by a small but vocal group of several dozen students. The faculty senate later condemned the deal. Both groups pointed to human rights abuses committed in prisons and immigration detention centers run by GEO.
Brogan said the issue sparked a “good debate.” But, he added, “I’m not sure anybody wins as a result of this.”
Brogan said he had no contact with Saunders regarding the stadium-naming agreement and the donation and would not say whether he thought the decision to accept the donation was a good one.
“I don’t know. You hate to make those calls 400 miles away. I wasn’t there. I didn’t have the contact with the GEO Group from the very beginning. I wasn’t involved in all the intricacies of that deal. To try to armchair quarterback I don’t if that is appropriate,” he said.