Dunkin’ Donuts, the coffee and baked goods chain founded in 1950, has recently agreed to become the new official sponsor for the Binghamton Bearcats.

This union between the school and Dunkin’ Donuts will apply to both the men’s and women’s Binghamton basketball teams and will begin with the slam dunk contest at Late Nite Madness on Oct. 16.

“We’ve been in conversations [with Dunkin’ Donuts] for a few years now,” said Jason Siegel, the senior associate athletic director at Binghamton University. “The sponsorship is a terrific opportunity for our fans and our community; they’ll recognize people who do wonderful things in our community, and during the games there will be some things that will happen to enhance the experience.”

Dunkin’ Donuts has a slew of plans already in motion for the upcoming 2009-10 basketball season.

There will be several initiatives in place, including Take a Kid to The Game Day, where one child will be allowed free entrance to a Bearcats game via a voucher given out at local Dunkin’ Donuts locations.

The “You ‘Kin Do It!” online initiative will recognize a local hero in the Binghamton community by allowing participants to write a 150-word paragraph explaining why a certain individual should be recognized. Dunkin’ Donuts will honor this fan with VIP seating at Bearcats games as well as a year’s supply of coffee.

Dunkin’ Donuts will also donate one pound of coffee to a local charity each time the men’s basketball team dunks the basketball and will reward fans with one free donut when the team makes five dunks.

“We’re a general supporter of youth sports throughout New York,” said Eric Stensland, a marketing manager of Dunkin’ Donuts. “[The sponsorship] is a great relationship. We have great promotions that will help the Bearcats; we really want to get the public involved, try to get them to come out.”

The University has competed in the NCAA since 1950, when they joined as a Division III school. In 2001, Binghamton moved up to NCAA Division I athletics after joining the America East Conference.

BU’s Events Center has hosted the 2005, 2006 and 2008 America East Conference men’s basketball championships. In the 2008-09 season, the Binghamton’s men’s basketball team won the conference championship before losing to Duke University in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.

The Bearcats already have over 130 sponsors, many of which are of a corporate sponsorship family.

Dunkin’ Donuts is based in Canton, Mass. and has scored No. 1 in customer loyalty for three years as of 2008, according to the coffee category by Brand Keys. It has over 8,800 locations in 31 countries around the world, making it the largest coffee and baked goods chain worldwide.

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