ESports has been taking off over the last few years and has been getting more and more recognition in the mainstream for it. Last year's DOTA 2 championship was televised by ESPN, Britain has a new gaming 'arena' coming in, and now a second school has added ESports to the things you can get a student athlete scholarship for.
The University of Pikeville (UPIKE) is going to have at least 20 student athlete scholarships available in the coming year with set up happening in spring, and the full competitive slate beginning in Fall 2015. The school will organize one Divison 1 team, and three Division 2 teams to make up its squad competing in the Collegate Star League (CSL). At least one of the teams will be an all freshman team allowing newcomers to get in easier access and make sure that new opportunities are opening each year for students going forward.
CSL organizes leagues for a variety of games and judging by their statement, there will be a focus on League of Legends by UPIKE. The games that CSL has leagues for as of now are Starcraft II, League of Legends, and DOTA II - the most popular eSport ones currently. CSL is intercollegiate and only open to accredited universities, and colleges in North America.
UPIKE alumni, and technology department member Eric VanHoose has been named the teams coach.
“I’ve been a lifelong gamer and I’m looking forward to seeing our students come together as a team and compete at the collegiate level,” VanHoose said. “As members of the ESPORTS team, students will be held to the same academic and athletic standards as every other athlete at the University of Pikeville. We’re going to put in a lot of work and we’re going to have a lot of fun.”
This will mean that they have to maintain a GPA standard while playing on the team to retain eligibility to compete, and for the scholarship.
UPIKE is following in the steps of Robert Morris University of Chicago who became the first school to offer student scholarships for eSports playing. This fits in with the schools planned push on technology, as it may help the school attract some students with being an early adopter. It also presents a potential revenue stream for the schools, at a time when other sports are having issues due to law suites, eSports are new and have minimal start up, and maintenance cost.
What do you think of schools offering Student Athlete Scholarships for eSports? Do you follow the CSL? Where do you think eSports are going next? Tell us in the comments!