To form varsity esports program

Jane Richards
April 19, 2017

In a release from Utah, esports program director of operations A.J. Dimick said he hopes the trend spreads far beyond Salt Lake City.

Funding for the student gamers will come from Utah's entertainment arts and engineering department, which is known as a leader in video game design.

Michael Sherman, collegiate esports lead at League of Legends developer Riot Games said that the university's announcement was a major stepping stone college League of Legends. Australian universities haven't begun offering scholarships for games just yet, but they have embraced the competitive aspect.

As a member of the Mountain West Conference in 2004, the Utes became the first non-BCS team invited to play in a BCS bowl game.

The University of Utah is part of the Power Five conferences, athletic conferences in the NCAA's highest division of college football.

Gaming is already such a big deal on campus.

"We had one of the best student gaming clubs in the country", Dimick said. He added that Utah's game development program is widely respected. The school plans to extend full scholarships to up to 35 gaming enthusiasts once the program gains momentum and is able to fetch revenues from sponsorship and marketing.

Utah is the most high-profile United States college to offer eSports scholarships, but the Universities of California and Irvine have recently built eSports arenas on their campuses.

"It is important for big colleges and their administrations to jump in".

The Utah structure shows a possible road map for other schools to approach esports, which have numerous same structures as traditional sports but don't have a natural home inside athletic departments.

Gamers on Utah's League of Legends team will all receive partial scholarships at first, Dimick said.

Other reports by VgToday

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