The University of Kansas accumulated thousands of dollars in student support services when they switched from Coca-Cola to Pepsi products for purchase in July 2017, a Kansan overview of records shows.
Pepsi supplies drinks in KU Dining facilities across campus, like the Memorial Union, Debruce Center, dining halls and at concession stands during games. Before the 2017 academic year, students could purchase Coca-Cola products on campus, but the University decided to switch it up after a 20-year-long partnership with Coca-Cola.
Though Coca-Cola and the University had been long-term partners, the switch racked up about $50,000 more for KU Memorial Union. Numbers on how much money Kansas Athletics, Inc. accumulated were not available through University or Kansas Athletics spokespeople.
“The University’s Executive Sponsorship Committee looked at a number of vendors and found Pepsi best combined opportunities to benefit students with pricing, services and products,” University spokesperson Erinn Barcomb-Peterson said in an email with the Kansan.
How KU and Memorial Union Benefit
The Kansan reached out to Memorial Union Director David Mucci for comment, but Barcomb-Peterson responded on behalf of Mucci, stating in part, “there may be a number of people who would be best able to answer various questions.”
Both the Pepsi and Coca-Cola agreement pushed for support services for students, and have funded scholarships on campus.
The Coca-Cola agreement allowed students to seek support through two different programs: 1) program funding for financial support of University-sponsored activities and 2) product requests as a form of support of University programs, according to the University’s Coca-Cola agreement website.
“The Coca-Cola agreement provided program funding for which registered student organizations and University units (primarily non-academic units) could apply,” Barcomb-Peterson said.
However, the Pepsi agreement provides a number of different funds for programs it supports.
The Pepsi agreement outlines $250,000 in scholarship funds for the first year, then $50,000 every year following. Additionally, there are $20,000 in sustainability funds, $30,000 for annual campus initiatives and $60,000 in advanced student funds — the last two of which support campus and are administered by Student Affairs, Barcomb-Peterson said.
In the second year, the University came to the agreement to aquire $28,000 for Bubly brand support, which is partially why there’s been such a push for the product within Wescoe’s Underground and other facilities on campus. This money does not carry forward following this year.
The Relationship Between Kansas Athletics, Inc. and Pepsi
In the agreement, more football and basketball tickets were given to Pepsi than Coca-Cola, though Pepsi gained fewer Late Night in the Phog tickets.
In the agreement with Coca-Cola, the University offered 20 season football tickets to Coca-Cola.
Now, Pepsi receives 10 season club experience tickets, 10 season tickets between the 40-yard lines, 50 single-game tickets and 50 tickets for a football game against in-state rival Kansas State played at Memorial Stadium, bringing the total to 120 tickets. Though it’s the same amount of season tickets, with more precise seating, there are over 100 more football tickets Pepsi acquired over Coca-Cola.
Pepsi also acquired two football parking passes in surface lots near the stadium and four other parking passes. Coca-Cola had 10 football parking passes.
For men’s basketball game, Coca-Cola acquired 20 season tickets.
However, Pepsi has four lower level tier-one season tickets, eight tier-two season tickets, four general admission season tickets, 10 general admission tickets to the K-State game and 12 single game general admission tickets upon request two weeks following the release of the schedule — which brings the total to 38 tickets. Pepsi acquired $18,580 worth in tickets for men’s basketball games, according to figures provided by Jim Marchiony, associate athletic director.
Pepsi gained four fewer parking passes than Coca-Cola had for basketball games. Initially, Coca-Cola had 10 men’s basketball parking passes. Currently, Pepsi has three garage parking passes and three surface parking passes.
The Coca-Cola contract also specified the company would gain 10 women’s basketball season tickets, but Pepsi did not have any negotiations in the contract specifically for women’s basketball season tickets.
Pepsi acquired 12 season tickets to other sports provided through Kansas Athletics, which is two more than Coca-Cola acquired.
But while Coca-Cola received 100 complimentary tickets to Late Night in the Phog, Pepsi only received 20 complimentary tickets.
For Coca-Cola, football season tickets were listed to be in “prime locations” and 10 of the men’s basketball tickets were included in the lower level between the baselines, the contract said. The other 10 men’s basketball tickets were elsewhere in Allen Fieldhouse, but not behind the baselines, according to the agreement.
Marchiony said the ticket agreement was handled through the University’s negotiations, not through Athletics.
“Athletics, like the University, benefits financially from it,” Marchiony said. “Obviously we provide the tickets but the ticket part of it is just apart of the overall negotiation. It’s a small number of tickets so it doesn’t have a large effect on any particular group.”
In the new Pepsi agreement, the University also complied to providing the company up to $25,000 in Adidas store credit per year.
Marchiony said that this store credit comes from sponsorship money that Adidas provides Kansas Athletics, and that the funds do not come out of the Athletics budget.
Why Details Are Emerging Now
Details of the Pepsi agreement were kept relatively under wraps by the University in earlier records requests from the Kansan during July 2017, as “final negotiations” were not complete, an earlier article in the Kansan said.
“The negotiations on this contract are not yet final,” stated a response to a Kansas Open Records Act request by the Kansan. “Therefore at this time the University has determined that it possesses no records responsive to this request.”
The full contract didn’t go into effect until Aug. 2, according to a first amendment to the contract signed by David Mucci, from KU Memorial Union Corporation, and Sean Lester, the deputy director of Kansas Athletics, Inc. Campus Operations is the unit who facilitated the agreement, but was not a signatory as the entity does not receive funding, according to Barcomb-Peterson.