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The FAU football video board proudly announced GEO Group Stadium on Tuesday.

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Locked down

Analysis: While a prison privatization company may not be the ideal benefactor, FAU was right to make a deal with The GEO Group - jokes and all.

Originally published on 2/19/2013

by Chuck King

Let the jokes flow.

Take no prisoners.

We're in for a fight in The Yard.

Well, at least that explains why the stadium food is bad.

Finally a useful in-game promotion: one lucky student wins a Get Out of Jail Free card.


FAU can broaden its fan base by broadcasting via closed circuit TV into the GEO Group facilities. (Quite literally, a captive audience).

Pat Chun hasn't paid any attention to the jokes that populated the internet today referring to FAU's stadium-naming deal with The GEO Group. Why should he?

Receiving the largest gift in the history of the FAU athletic program makes it easy to shake off a few punchlines.

FAU ended a better than two-year search for a stadium name sponsor on Tuesday when it finalized a deal that includes The GEO Group giving FAU $6 million. The Owls, in turn, will play their football games in GEO Group Stadium for the next 12 years.

Yes, The GEO Group is a leader in privatizing correctional facilities. Go ahead, insert your joke here...

Why is Chun smiling even though he's battling a cold that likely would have kept him at home today if not for the big announcement? It's not the jokes.

It's because his athletic department will receive a $500,000 check in each of the next 12 years. That money will be put toward the stadium debt, allowing Chun to free up some money for other pursuits.

Is it ideal that the money is coming from a company that oversees prisons and has run afoul of some governing bodies? No. But Pope Benedict didn't exactly have Chun on speed dial.

What FAU received today is a major injection of money from a company whose CEO, George Zoley, is also an alumnus. It's a show of pride for one's school that could easily prompt others to give. The deal also allows Chun,  President Mary Jane Saunders and other FAU fundraisers to ask prominent Boca Raton businesses: If The GEO Group can see fit to be part of FAU's growth, shouldn't you be, too? 

FAU's Board of Trustees erupted in applause when the deal was approved at today's meeting. A few hours later Chun called it “a landmark day for our athletic program.”

He's right. FAU fans who have wondered for two years why the stadium didn't have a named sponsor need to embrace this relationship, barbed wire and all.

They should also hope this is only the beginning of a flood of local businesses becoming involved in FAU athletics. More than any other factor, the flow of money into the athletic department will determine how quickly the Owls can grow and ultimately gain national respect.

Back in the Oxley Center on Tuesday afternoon, Carl Pelini may have already been trying to figure out how to embrace the Owls' new signature offensive play. After the events of Tuesday morning, there's simply no excuse for FAU not to have the best jailbreak screen in the nation.

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