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Ohio University student Garrett Meddock grabs a drink at the Coca-Cola machine at West 82 in Baker Center, Sept. 7, 2023.

3-year Coca-Cola contract offers OU more funding

Ohio University students have noticed something different about their trips to the dining halls ever since September: Coca-Cola products have replaced Pepsi.

Director of Strategic Sourcing for Procurement Services David McCracken said OU switched from Pepsi to Coke because the university’s Pepsi agreement expired in Fiscal Year 2023. 

According to the Coca-Cola Services Agreement, OU signed an agreement with Coke Services lasting from Aug. 1, 2023, to May 30, 2026. Throughout these three years, intercollegiate venues, dining halls, markets, cafes and vending machines on the Athens and regional campuses will now see the marketing of Coke products.

McCracken said the switch between beverage companies does not require the university to make any capital investments. 

According to the Pepsi Pouring Rights Agreement, the university’s affiliation with Pepsi lasted for 10 years and ended in June 2022. The Pepsi agreement only had annual sponsorship funds of $190,000, which is $100,000 less than the annual funds from Coke. 

McCracken said early in 2023 there was a competitive bid for a beverage partnership for the university. The bidding event that decided the switch came from the input of the Request for Proposal, or RFP, committee, he said.

He said the agreement with Coke includes $970,000 in support funds over the three-year agreement.

In 2023, the one-time Coke sponsorship funds of $100,000 were allocated to support university academics and projects, including $95,000 of the funds going toward the Strategic Opportunity Reserves for university projects, while the remaining $5,000 went to esports racing simulators to participate in the iRacing League. However, this fund will only be applicable this year. 

The Coke agreement also added a sponsorship with OU’s esports club team and the general area for esports. The sponsorship includes branded activation events and weekends and jersey patches, according to the Coca-Cola contract. 

Coke also funded $290,000 to the Coke Base Sponsorship, these funds will be allocated to support OU academics, scholarships, student health and well-being and campus sustainability efforts, McCracken said.

The specific allocations are $10,000 to fund the University Office of Sustainability activities; $12,000 to support esports coaches; $20,000 to campus recreation; $65,000 to athletics; $55,000 to culinary; $45,000 to student affairs for programming support, comprised of $33,000 for general programming and $12,000 to help support the cost of Bobcat Connect; $38,000 to Strategic Opportunity Reserve for university projects; $45,000 to Student Affairs for Coke Scholar programming comprised of $30,000 to support 12 students who will receive $2,500 one-year scholarships and $15,000 to support programming for these students.

“During the implementation process, Coca-Cola has been tremendous collaborators on modernizing equipment within our buildings and positioning each of our brands within the community,” Ryan O’Connor, associate athletics director for external engagement, wrote in an email. 

Regarding athletics, the beverage partnership logo is ubiquitous in sports venues. From concessions for fans to hydration for student-athletes, the Coke logo will now headline events. 

Director of Well-Being and Recreation Wes Bonadio said Peden Stadium, The Convo, Chessa Field, Wren Stadium and the OU Softball Field were converted to Coca-Cola marketing during the Fall Semester.

However, he said the scoreboard in Walter Fieldhouse still needs updating but the university is working with Coke to print new graphics. The turf logo also needs changing, but he said the university plans to change the logo to Coke in a few years when the entire turf gets replaced. 

Along with the change in athletic marketing, Pepsi vending machines were removed from every academic building and dorm hall and replacements will be phased in.

“The vending machines will be installed on campus in a phased approach,” Director of Culinary Services Frank Pazzanese wrote in an email. “We are currently working with external vendors to finalize the timeline and prioritize implementation across campus.”

With athletics, vending and dining halls having almost fully implemented Coca-Cola products, students can say "goodbye" to Pepsi and "hello" to Coke until the contract timeline ends in 2026.


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