New York Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez had his professional legacy altered forever when he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs four years ago. Now, A-Rod is fighting even more severe accusations as his philanthropic legacy in Miami hangs in the balance.
The famous ballplayer is currently appealing his 211-game suspension from Major League Baseball. The scandal has prompted locals to ask whether the local organizations he has supported will distance themselves from him.
Although Rodriguez never attended the University of Miami, he has a very visible connection to it. While in high school, Rodriguez verbally committed to play for UM, according to Jockbio.com, though he took an offer from the Seattle Mariners instead.
In 2003, Rodriguez pledged $3.9 million to renovate UM’s baseball stadium, according to ESPN. The stadium was renamed in his honor and he was made an honorary alumnus of the school. UM has declined to comment on whether the stadium will continue to bear Rodriguez’s name.
It would not be the first time the university removed a disgraced name from one of its campus locations. Former UM football booster Nevin Shapiro had his name on a student-athlete lounge after making a financial donation, but after investors in Shapiro’s $900 million Ponzi scheme filed a lawsuit against his company in 2009, UM removed Shapiro’s name from the lounge and returned the money.
In cases like these where a donor’s name has been disgraced, their reputation and the purpose behind the gift have to be reevaluated, said Rae Goldsmith, vice president of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
“The Enron chair of business ethics is going to send a different kind of message than the Enron chair of the arts,” Goldsmith explained.
She said a school’s decision would also be influenced by factors such as whether the pledge had been fulfilled, which UM has declined to state.
Alex Rodriguez’s name is also on the building that houses the Boys and Girls Club of Miami-Dade’s charter school at the Alex Rodriguez Educational Center.
When asked whether the Club was considering removing Rodriguez’s name from its property, the coincidentally-named Executive Director Alex Rodriguez-Roig responded in a statement, “We consider Mr. Rodriguez one of our largest supporters and we can’t possibly thank him enough for his commitment to our children.”
Rodriguez funded the Education Center named for him with a $1 million donation in 2009, according to the statement. He has also funded the renovation of baseball fields at several of the clubs’ locations and underwritten the costs of the club’s baseball leagues for over a decade.