The University of Utah announced that its forming a “Varsity ESports” team through its Entertainment Arts & Engineering (EAE) video game development program. It is starting with League of Legends as its first game with additional games in the offing. It’s the first eSports program in the Power Five conferences.
The EAE program has been ranked the No. 1 video game design program in the nation.
There are multiple eSports teams sponsored by college gaming clubs across the U.S. but this is the first of its kind where a university department is sponsoring a team.
According to Bloomberg, gamers on the Utah’s League of Legends team will receive partial scholarships at first with a long-term plan of expanding to more games and monetizing the effort through marketing and sponsorship deals that will lead to full scholarships.
This is a sign that eSports is being considered as more than a club sport on college campuses. Certainly the opportunity to monetize the endeavor is a reason for the push. With conferences seeking content for its cable networks and sponsors looking to market to a young demo, eSports is gaining traction.