Gamers, rejoice! The University of Utah is officially offering a scholarship for competitive videogaming. Currently, they are the most high-profile school to enter into collegiate esports and offer free education with it.
The lucky scholars will comprise the university’s first ever e-sports varsity team, and will represent their school in the League of Legends Collegiate League this year. The team will also participate in more competitive e-sports tournaments in the future.
All students on the varsity team will receive partial scholarships as of now. In an interview with Bloomberg, Utah’s E-sports Director A.J. Dimick says the plan is to develop the program until they can offer full scholarships to students.
Although e-sports are already popular on some college campuses abroad, most of the teams competing in gaming leagues are club teams, not varsity teams from universities. Michael Sherman, college esports lead for Riot Games and League of Legends developer, says that during competitions, they have more than 750 college club teams, and only 20 official university varsity teams participating.
Before the University of Utah, most of the colleges and universities that offered varsity e-sports programs were small schools. Utah is the first school from the Power Five athletic conferences (schools with the richest athletic departments) to offer varsity e-sports. Now that they've started it, more are hoping that other universities in the Power Five will follow suit.
Another reason to get excited about their e-sports varsity team is that the course will be under their Entertainment Arts and Engineering program. University of Utah’s Entertainment Arts and Engineering is known to be one of the top ranked game design programs in the United States.
Combining a quality game design program with a varsity e-sport team holds great promise for gamers and the future of competitive esports.
Interested? Fill out their recruitment form here.