Pepsi Says It Will Stick With Penn State Sponsorship

Pepsi Says It Will Stick With Penn State
Pepsi Says It Will Stick With Penn State

Penn State's profile is growing more radioactive, but the university can at least rest easy that it still has a soda to call its own.

Pepsi on Wednesday said it will remain a sponsor of the school and its football team. "We are very concerned about the current allegations surrounding certain individuals at Penn State University, but will continue to honor our longstanding relationship," a company spokesman wrote in an email to a DailyFinance reporter.

Pepsi has been one of the university's largest corporate partners, and is ubiquitous on Penn State's main State College campus and 20 satellites. In its original deal with the school in 1992, Pepsico (PEP) paid Penn State $14 million over 10 years for exclusive vending and advertising rights. Details of the renewal were not available, but the soda maker's commitment is apparent. Pepsi vending machines are spread throughout the campus. Soft drinks are served in Pepsi cups on game day. And the signage is anchored by a permanent Pepsi logo on the scoreboard of the 106,537-seat football stadium.

The cola manufacturer's disclosure that it's still on Penn State's team should come as refreshing news to the school: Its endorsement portfolio faces a potentially massive exodus in the wake of the scandal. pulled advertising from an ESPN telecast of Penn State's loss to Nebraska last Saturday, and Sherwin-Williams, the paint company, removed its logo from the banner that hangs during Penn State press conferences.

The status of other advertisers remains uncertain. A spokesperson for the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Conn., told DailyFinance on Wednesday that the casino's deal with Penn State football "technically" ended for the year, but said they would call back with an update. DailyFinance did not hear back. DailyFinance also contacted Penn State sponsors AT&T (T), Berks Hot Dogs and Chesapeake Energy (CHK), and did not receive any response as of deadline.

Other high-profile sponsors such as Chevrolet, PNC Financial, John Deere, State Farm Insurance and the American Red Cross are staying put for now, ABC News already reported, as is the team's outfitter, Nike. (The latter is being pressured to rename its Joe Paterno Child Development Center on its Beaverton, Ore., campus, wrote.)

A spokesman for Weis Markets told DailyFinance that the chain will continue its sponsorship, and that it hoped the school's "top priority will be addressing the needs of the victims."

None of the above, however, is now listed as a sponsor on Penn State's athletics website. The page reads "Penn State Athletics would like to thank its Corporate Partners for their support" but is otherwise blank. One company spokeswoman said she believed the university removed the names on its own. A Penn State spokesman said that Associate Athletic Director Greg Myford would comment later.

Penn State football generates $53 million in revenue annually, CNN reported, and the entire athletic program receives an additional $24 million in sponsorships and merchandising deals. Pepsi's contribution is significant for a school that is looking to gain any victories it can as dark clouds descend on it for unprecedented systemic failures of oversight -- if the accusations are true. Former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky is charged with 40 counts of child sex abuse involving eight boys, including the rape of a 10-year-old in the locker room shower. Another assistant witnessed the act and told Coach Joe Paterno, who informed school officials. No school administrator -- including Paterno and President Graham Spanier -- told the police. Both lost their jobs. Two other administrators, Athletic Director Tim Curley and school Vice President Gary Schultz, face perjury charges of lying to a grand jury about their knowledge of the incidents.

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