The University of Akron, Ohio is joining a growing number of universities offering eSports varsity programs. Like students participating in traditional sports programs, students at Akron will be able to earn scholarships for playing sports-related video games.
This reflects the increasing popularity of electronic sports on college campuses.
The University of Akron will be the first university in northeast Ohio to create such a program. However, the Miami University was the first in the Buckeye State to offer an eSports program last year.
The structure of the program will closely follow traditional athletic programs to the extent of offering tryouts, students wearing uniforms and taking part in scheduled practices. Teams of up to 35 students will take part.
The program will be housed in an “arena” in the Williams Honors College.
President Matthew Wilson in a statement said, “Embracing eSports allows the University to continue attracting top students while providing an innovative pathway for students to flourish academically, socially and professionally.”
Under newly hired eSports director and head coach Michael Fay Jr., the university’s eSports teams will compete with other colleges in games such as League of Legends, Rocket League and Hearthstone.
The college also feels the eSports program will provide students an opportunity to collaborate and be leaders and help them to develop marketable job skills.
The program will also involve students from other disciplines. Engineering and computer students will build the terminal machines at the arena, communications students will broadcast the games and graphic design students will create the uniforms. Not to mention recruiting students in health majors to work as personal trainers, among other things.