There's the sublime. There's the ridiculous. And there's the sublimely ridiculous. If former FAU Athletics Director Craig Angelos is to believed, the last of those three is the realm inhabited by the school's leadership, as far as PR savvy.
The school's tone-deaf ways have been infamous from coast to coast for the past two months, ever since its decision to sell naming rights of its football field to the world's largest private prison operator, the GEO Group. But the frosting on the cake? According to Angelos, the other chief candidate for the deal was... Chick-fil-A. That's right: Instead of branding the school's signature building with the name of a notorious human rights abuser, it could have been linked forever with efforts to beat back equality for gays and lesbians. Go Owls!
Angelos disclosed this info in an interview with Sunshine State News, a right-wing web pub spawned by GOP political operative Justin Sayfie. (We're regular readers. Like the Godfather says: "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer.") According to Angelos, who reportedly was dismissed for faltering fundraising:
Angelos says he had a superior stadium-rights deal on the table, before the first football game was ever played, involving one of South Florida's largest car dealership chains. That arrangement could have put $1 million of annual advertising money and straight-up sponsor gifts into the program each year for six years. But, he says, the higher-ups in the school's chain of command wanted to hold off for a better deal with fast-food chain Chick-fil-A or, indeed, the GEO Group. After being put on hold, the automotive chain's interest cooled, and FAU ultimately landed GEO...
OK. GEO is local, hq'd just down the road from the school in Boca Raton, and its CEO is a longtime school trustee. So that lends a microscopically slim excuse for the school's disastrous choice. But Chick-fil-A is based in Atlanta, and the only prior connection to FAU (known to us, anyway) is the sale of its sandwiches at the stadium. (We'll have the lobster quesadilla, ourselves.)
It's also the case that Chick-fil-A's gay-bashing ways drew widespread attention only after its CEO mouthed off about how fire and brimstone will rain down on the U.S. if gay marriage was allowed. That was in June 2012, after Angelos was let go by FAU. But due diligence by the school would have turned up news reports of the company's antigay stance as far back as January 2011. As the GEO Group disaster shows, however, due diligence is not FAU's strong suit.
We've asked FAU's media relation's folks for response to Angelos' comments and to tell us how accurate his account is. (Maybe he's fibbing, to get back at the school, or pulling the traditional-values leg of Sunshine State News.) We've yet to hear back.