The long-standing argument over whether or not beer companies should sponsor college events -- mostly athletic ones -- rages on, with advocates on both sides of the issue. Those who argue in favor of beer company sponsorships welcome the extra revenue generated from beer sales, product percentages and backing for college events, but those against it -- drug and health activists -- feel it sends the wrong message. Whether or not a beer company can sponsor a college event depends specifically on state and local laws and the college's board of governors or its bylaws.

State Laws

State laws may affect the ability of a college to have beer sponsorships at some events. Many colleges make extra money by allowing the sale of beer to the public at sporting and other college events. However, public beer sales at some colleges typically do not apply to the entire stadium because of underage attendees. At some colleges, alcohol sponsorship and sales apply only to those with high-end stadium suites, private lounges or club seats. But in 2011, West Virginia University decided to open up stadium beer sales to all legal drinkers, generating $500,000 in extra revenue its first year.

College Events

In 2011, one beer company signed sponsorship agreements with more than 23 colleges -- including Arizona State -- across the country. Even with those agreements, the company must adhere to strict guidelines in its advertising efforts for college events. The company cannot include a college name on any of its beer-related packaging, nor can it hire actors to depict college athletes for marketing materials. Terms of the agreement remain private, but industry and marketing experts estimate the worth of the deal at more than $10 million annually. A brewing company, an airlines and an art school all joined in 2013 to sponsor the ArtPrize event managed by a private foundation.

Legislative Actions

While the majority of colleges across the country opt out of beer sponsorships because of state or school laws, some states and colleges look to sponsorships as a way to support and enhance funding. In Arizona, for example, three state representatives brought HB2785 to the legislature in 2012 that proposes a pilot program to allow college sporting event beer sales. The bill establishes the college venues for selling beer and wine and who manages the program. The bill cites the Arizona Board of Regents with input and discussion from the state's department of liquor licenses and controls as the entities responsible for picking the participants in the pilot program. These agencies also establish the manner in which the participant colleges can use beer sponsorships to offset school budgets.

West Virginia's Argument

West Virginia University Athletic Director Oliver Luck came down on the side of beer sales and sponsorship for the college. He reasoned that selling beer would give the college a way to decrease beer drinking and alcohol-related activity during college sporting events. Along with the beer sales, event attendees can also buy beer memorabilia, adding to the sponsorship dollars available to WVU. In 2011, the first year of beer sales, arrests dropped to 79 arrests, close to a 35 percent decrease from 117 arrests the previous year. Advocates for beer sales at WVU attributed the availability of beer at the game to a drop in pre-event tailgate parties that typically lead to excessive drinking and arrests. Luck knows that selling beer may seem contrary to intuitive thinking, but he feels that it allows the college to gain a measure of control.