Scope: Who is Covered by this Policy?

All Sponsorships (as defined herein) involving third party support for the university, excluding for the following:

  • Sponsorships involving athletic properties that are governed by sports marketing contracts between the University and third party marketing agencies
  • Gifts solicited by University Advancement and administered by the University Foundation.
  • Sponsored research and sponsored academic projects
  • Pouring rights and other types of exclusive provider contracts (e.g. banking and affinity credit card agreements) which are managed by the Senior Vice President of Finance and Business Services
  • Student organization sponsorships


Miami recognizes that many persons, businesses and entities outside of the University desire to support University groups and activities by making financial or in-kind donations.  While such support can be valuable, it must be recognized that as a public institution, there are a number of factors, legal as well as reputational, that must be taken into consideration before the University, or any component thereof, accepts such sponsorships.  This Policy sets forth Miami’s requirements for accepting sponsorships from external sources.


Sponsorship means financial or in-kind support provided by an external person or entity (Sponsor) to Miami University organizations, departments, colleges, centers, and administrative units for Miami programs, events, activities, publications, and the like, in exchange for an Acknowledgement of the Sponsorship as set forth in a Sponsorship Agreement between Miami and the Sponsor.  For tax law reasons, Sponsorships are divided into two categories:

  • Qualified Sponsorships are those for which the support given to the University by the Sponsor is not taxable income to the University under the Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. While this is a complicated area of the law, in general what this means is that in order to be a Qualified Sponsorship there can be no arrangement or expectation that the Sponsor will receive any substantial return benefit (e.g., Advertising or Endorsement) other than Acknowledgement by the University.
  • Non-qualified Sponsorships are those for which the support received from a Sponsor is considered income to the University under the UBIT provisions because the Sponsor is receiving a substantial return benefit in exchange for the Sponsor’s support.

In-kind Support means the donation of goods, services or other non-monetary support by a Sponsor as part of a Sponsorship.

Acknowledgement refers to the University’s recognition of the support that the University receives from a Sponsor in connection with the activity that receives the support.  This will typically involve an agreed-upon placement of the Sponsor’s name and/or logo on promotional materials, websites, signage, tickets, or other appropriate media related to the event or program to recognize the Sponsor’s support of that event or activity. An Acknowledgment is not and may not contain Advertising and/or Endorsement of the Sponsor. The overall effect and purpose of an Acknowledgement is identification of the Sponsor rather than the promotion of the Sponsor’s products, services or facilities.

Advertising refers to any communication, however published or displayed, that promotes or markets any trade or business, or any service, facility or product. Advertising includes messages containing qualitative or comparative language, price information or other indications of savings or value associated with a product or service, an Endorsement, or any inducement to purchase, sell or use the sponsor’s company, service, facility or product.

Endorsement is any statement by the University or someone speaking on its behalf that could reasonably be understood as expressing a preference for the Sponsor’s goods and services or that the quality of the Sponsor’s goods and services are superior.

Return Benefit is any item or service that Miami provides to a Sponsor in exchange for providing the Sponsorship. Return Benefits include all items provided to the sponsor, no matter how de miminis (e.g., event tickets, food and beverages, t-shirts, mugs, or access to university services).

General Statement of Policy

Miami permits the solicitation of external support in the form of Qualified Sponsorships for its programs, events, activities, publications and the like, that are created in accordance with the specific requirements and procedures of this Policy.  Qualified Sponsorships are strongly preferred.  Non-qualified Sponsorships involving advertising or other substantial benefit to the Sponsor must be approved by the Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Services or Provost and shall otherwise be subject to the University’s formal contracting procedures administered by the Office of Purchasing. 

Endorsements of a sponsor, its products, business or services in any form, express or implied, by the University or anyone acting on its behalf, are prohibited.  Factual statements that the University is a user or purchaser of a product or program does not constitute an Endorsement and are permitted if true and accurate and approved by the Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Services.

Selection of Sponsors

The following types of Sponsorships are not permitted under this Policy:

  • Sponsorships involving alcohol products
  • Those involving tobacco products
  • Those involving products or practices that are prohibited under Ohio or Federal law
  • Those involving gambling or the adult entertainment industry
  • Those in conflict with existing University rules and policies

In addition to the foregoing, Miami reserves the right to refuse or withdraw from a Sponsorship that is inconsistent with its mission or would adversely affect its reputation. Miami also reserves the right to refuse to approve any Sponsorship that is in conflict with another existing Sponsorship or with Miami’s existing contractual obligations.

Process for Creating a Sponsorship

All Sponsorships require the completion of a Sponsorship Acknowledgement Form or creation of an Agreement that is reviewed and approved by the University as described below.  All Sponsorship Acknowledgements and Agreements shall, at a minimum, identify the Sponsor, and shall specify:

  • The financial or In-kind Support to be provided to the University
  • Any Return Benefits to be received by the Sponsor
  • The form and placement of the Acknowledgement.

Non-qualified Sponsorships

Non-qualified Sponsorships, in which the Sponsor will receive advertising or some other benefit will only be approved in instances where the support received by the University is significant.   A Sponsorship Agreement for proposed Non-qualified Sponsorships must be created, reviewed and approved through the formal contracting process administered by Miami’s Office of Purchasing.  In addition to the normal approvals for contracting, the proposed Sponsorship Agreement must also be reviewed and approved by the Office of General Counsel and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Services.  Non-qualified Sponsorships will not be approved for academic programs or activities.

Qualified Sponsorships

Those wishing to propose a Qualified Sponsorship in which the financial or in-kind support received by the University is valued at less than $10,000 should complete and submit the Sponsorship Acknowledgement Form.  Sponsorship Acknowledgement Forms must be submitted to the   Office of University Advancement not less than fifteen (15) working days prior to the event or activity being sponsored.

Proposed Qualified Sponsorships for which the financial or in-kind support is valued at $10,000 or more must be reviewed and approved through a formal gift agreement and approved by the Office of   University Advancement.   Qualified Sponsorships involving academic units or programs must also be approved by the Provost (or designee).

Form of Acknowledgement for Qualified Sponsorships

Acknowledgements may list the Sponsors name, trade name, locations, telephone number or internet address along with identification of Sponsor as a sponsor of the program or activity.  Sponsors may not use the terms “official” or “exclusive” or similar descriptors without the approval of the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer and the Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Services (or designee).

The Sponsor may be permitted by the Sponsorship Acknowledegment or Agreement to include the following information in the listing or acknowledgement of sponsors:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone or Fax
  • Email
  • Website
  • Slogan
  • Brand or Trade Name
  • A value neutral description of the product or service of products or services

The Sponsor is not permitted to include any of the following:

  • Qualitative Language (“highest quality”)
  • Comparative Language (“best in town”)
  • Call to Action (“go to ABC Retail Group”)
  • Inducement (“you owe it to yourself”)
  • Endorsements (“the official Miami ________”)

Use of University Trademarks

The existence of a Sponsorship does not entitle the Sponsor to utilize University trademarks.  All permitted uses of University trademarks by a Sponsor must be set forth in the Sponsorship Agreement and each specific use must be reviewed and approved in writing and in advance by Miami’s Director of Licensing.

Related Form(s)

Not applicable.

Additional Resources and Procedures

Not applicable


Not applicable.

Policy Administration

Next Review Date


Responsible Officers

  • General Counsel
  • Sr. Vice President of Finance and Business Services

Legal Reference

No applicable.

Compliance Policy


Recent Revision History


Reference ID(s)



  • General Counsel
  • Sr. Vice President of Finance and Business Services