Patriots Owner Robert Kraft Pulls the Plug on Columbia Donations, Citing 'Virulent Hate' on Campus

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (AP)
April 22, 2024

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft on Monday said he will no longer donate to his alma mater Columbia University due to the "virulent hate" on campus against Jewish people amid widespread anti-Israel protests.

"The school I love so much—the one that welcomed me and provided me with so much opportunity—is no longer an institution I recognize," the NFL team's billionaire owner said in a Monday statement, noting he is "deeply saddened at the virulent hate that continues to grow on campus and throughout our country."

"I am no longer confident that Columbia can protect its students and staff and I am not comfortable supporting the university until corrective action is taken," Kraft added.

The anti-Israel protests at Columbia, which started Wednesday morning with an encampment by hundreds of students on the university’s main lawn, have turned violent and featured anti-Semitic slogans. More than 100 Columbia students have since been arrested and suspended from the university. 

Kraft has donated millions to Columbia after attending the Ivy League university on a "full academic scholarship" and graduating in 1963. One of Kraft’s largest donations helped open the Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life in 2000.  

Kraft on Monday said he hopes that "in this difficult time, the Kraft Center at Columbia will serve as a source of security and safety for all Jewish students and faculty on campus who want to gather peacefully to practice their religion, to be together, and to be welcomed."

The Patriots owner also urged the administrators at Columbia to put an end to the protests immediately and "work to earn back the respect and trust of the many of us who have lost faith in the institution."

Kraft’s remarks came after Columbia president Minouche Shafik announced all Monday classes would be moved online amid safety concerns.

"To deescalate the rancor and give us all a chance to consider next steps, I am announcing that all classes will be held virtually on Monday," Shafik said on Monday, stressing that "over the past days, there have been too many examples of intimidating and harassing behavior on our campus."