Escape from 'Owl-catraz': Prison Firm Pulls Out Of FAU Stadium Deal

Apr 2, 2013

The stadium on the Boca Raton campus of Florida Atlantic University
Credit Christine DiMattei

A $6 million deal that would have given a private prison company naming rights to Florida Atlantic University's stadium is now off. And that's leaving some FAU students wondering if another donation that size is coming around any time soon.

The GEO Group has come under fire by human rights organizations for alleged mistreatment of prison inmates.  The controversy over the proposed stadium name-change sparked weeks of student and faculty protests on FAU’s Boca Raton campus. Many took to calling the stadium “Owl-catraz,” a play on the school mascot, an owl.

But freshman Aaron Gastman says FAU needs the money and it’s a shame the deal fell through. 

"I honestly didn’t have a problem with it but I mean, I could understand how somebody would.  Because of the human rights and stuff," said 19-year-old Gastman.  "I mean, in this case, when there’s so little money going towards schools, it’s necessary.  It’s a necessary evil.”

Student Samantha Cattella, 39, is studying to be a social worker.  She says she’s glad the funding won’t be coming from a private prison company.

“I think it’s a good thing to stand up for what’s morally right.  The stadium’s fine.  I don’t think it needs any more money put into it right now," Cattella said.

Meanwhile, FAU is doing damage control over another controversy.  A student at the university’s Davie campus says he was unfairly suspended from a class in late February for not writing the word ”Jesus” on a piece of paper and stomping on it as part of a class exercise.  The professor teaching that class has been put on administrative leave.