The athletics department gets about $58,000 in sponsorship funds from HSU's contract with PepsiCo, which give the multi-billion-dollar company "pouring rights" on campus.
Humboldt State University President Lisa Rossbacher has decided to sever the school’s ties with PepsiCo after some students came forward opposing its ongoing 40-year relationship with the multi-billion-dollar company.
Under the contract, PepsiCo gave HSU about $58,000 in sponsorship funds for athletic scholarships and scoreboard maintenance in exchange for “pouring rights” guaranteeing Pepsi 80 percent of on-campus food and beverage retail space. With the five-year contract slated to expire June 30 and up for renewal, students urged administrators end the school’s relationship with the soft drink giant — which owns a host of multi-billion-dollar subsidiaries, including Quaker, Cheetos, Doritos, Gatorade and Tropicana.
Specifically, students argued that partnering with PepsiCo wasn’t in line with the school’s stated commitment to promoting social and environmental justice. Additionally, they said the contract denies local businesses the opportunity to sell their products on campus.
Through a series of campus meetings
attended by a host of students last semester, it became apparent that the potential of losing almost $60,000 in revenue was daunting to administrators, who face a budget shortfall, including a $500,000 structural deficit in the athletic department.
“There is no easy solution,” HSU VP of Administrative Affairs Joyce Lopes said at a meeting in April. “We are in a deficit environment and I honestly don’t know where to find that $58,000.”
HSU spokesperson Grant Scott-Goforth said in an email to the Journal
that Rossbacher made her decision with input from the Division of Administrative Affairs, which oversees all contracts and procurement for the university, the athletic department and the University Center, which operates dining services.
Scott-Goforth said Rossbacher is confident that dining services will be able to meet student needs while providing them with more product options, which may still include some Pepsi offerings, just without the "pouring rights" contract.
As to that $58,000, it’s unclear if athletics scholarships will be maintained, though the department can look to contract with Pepsi directly to make up some of the lost funding, if it so desires. A call to HSU Assistant Athletic Director of Communications and Marketing Andrew Goetz was not immediately returned this afternoon.
Editor's note: In the interest of full disclosure, Scott-Goforth spent three years working for the
Journal as an assistant editor and staff writer before leaving to work at HSU.