Over the summer, a lot changed at Eastern, with one of the most notable changes being the university’s switch from Pepsi to Coca-Cola.
With that switch came a new contract, and upon closer inspection there were a few things that weren’t as noticeable as the blue signs being replaced with red ones.
The most noteworthy change between the Pepsi and Coke contracts is the addition of free cases of Coke beverages to be distributed throughout campus. Annually, 1,860 cases of Coca-Cola beverages are given to EKU to be distributed for free.
These 1,860 cases are divided into three sections: university, athletics and president’s office.
The university receives 600 cases of Coke beverages annually to be distributed for free, these can’t be sold. Part of this allotment was used for Move-In Mania where Coke had a canopy set up and was handing out sodas, Dasani water and various other Coca-Cola owned beverages.
The athletics department receives 900 cases of Coke beverages annually. This is significantly higher than what’s allotted for the general university, but will likely consist more of Dasani water and Powerade drinks for all EKU student-athletes and could be given away to student’s attending games. There’s no specification for how athletics uses those free drinks.
The president’s office receives up to 360 cases of Coke beverages annually, split into regular shipments of up to 30 cases monthly. The president’s office isn’t required to order that many, but they can.
If the president’s office chose to maximize the quantity of free beverages they receive, they would receive 360 cases which is 19.3 percent of all the free drinks given to EKU.
There are about 16,000 students at EKU, with a little over 320 of those students being student-athletes and there are five employees in the president’s office, including their student workers.
Coke’s contract doesn’t clarify how many drinks are in a case, but it’s safe to assume they’re referring to drinks in the same quantities as the Pepsi contract which defined a case of sodas, waters and sports drinks as cases of 24.
Based on those numbers, the average student would receive 0.9 free Coke beverages a year, the average student-athlete would receive 67.5 free Coke beverages a year and the average member of the president’s office could receive up to 1,728 free Coke beverages a year, assuming these drinks are given to individuals in the populations they’re allotted for.
In an interview, President Benson said he didn’t plan on drinking those 1,728 drinks.
“There’s no way we’re gonna drink that much cola,” Benson said before opening several of his cabinets to show they weren’t full of secret stashes of soda, but instead packed with books.
If Benson’s office doesn’t order all of the beverages they’re allotted, he said it will likely go back into distribution across campus.
Even though his office is now permanently stocked with drinks, Benson was not entirely on board with the switch.
“I’m a big Dr. Pepper fan, so part of me was a little sad,” Benson said.
More changed between the Coke and Pepsi contracts than just free drinks and the loss of Dr. Pepper.
With the Coke contract comes a $300,000 signing bonus for EKU, the Pepsi contract had no signing bonus.
Previously, the Pepsi contract entitled Pepsi to be the only beverage company allowed to serve bottled drinks on campus with exceptions made for the on-campus Starbucks location and small quantities of free bottled water with EKU’s logo on them. The Coke contract adds an exception for Ale-8-One to be served on campus as well, which President Benson was extremely excited about.
“That was one of the beverages we discovered when we came to Kentucky,” Benson said. “I would say it is life changing.”
The Coke contract also increases the commission rate EKU receives on 20oz bottled drinks from 41.5 to 42 percent and guarantees a minimum annual commission of $85,000. This number will likely be exceeded, but an added minimum commission is a nice safety net.
Pepsi’s contract allotted $10,000 over the 7 year agreement for recycling equipment on campus, Coke’s contract increases that to $60,000 for its 10 year agreement, an increase of about 23.8 percent per year to go toward recycling equipment.
The final stipulation in these contracts was that Pepsi would receive 12 season pass tickets to football games, men’s and women’s basketball games and preferred parking passes for those events. Coke, on the other hand, only requested eight tickets to any sporting event which are only distributed on an as-needed basis, instead of allotting spaces for them at every game.
Overall, the Coke contract is significantly more beneficial for EKU than the Pepsi contract was, a sign that EKU is continuing to grow as a university, Benson said.
“This, coupled with the investment by Aramark in our new dining hall and the contract we signed with them signify that both of these companies, which are major corporations, worldwide corporations, see the growth potential of EKU,” Benson said. “The fact that we got this with Coke bodes well for the future.”