University President Michael Lovell announced this new initiative in his annual address Wednesday afternoon.
“Being named after an explorer means it’s in Marquette’s DNA to define the opportunities of tomorrow and ensure we’re anticipating what future students will expect,” Lovell said, ” We had a great appetite from our athletic department because (esports) was already part of the BIG EAST competition. We decided that (Athletics) would be a great place for it to be housed.”
Marquette Wire’s John Steppe first reported this news. The university stated it’ll become the first NCAA Division 1 power-conference to add an esports team to its varsity programs.
But, it is important to note that Utah, Boise State, Missouri, and Ohio State are additional D-1 schools with esports programs. And Robert Morris started online sports scholarships back in 2014.
@MarquetteU and @muathletics excited about creation of varsity esports program, set to debut in fall of 2019. https://t.co/fJMwJH45lH
The ever-growing list consisting of NAIA, NJCAA, Division III, Division II, and Division I schools continues to rise adjacent to the increased popularity of competitive gaming.
So, how will this all work? Marquette will treat the new varsity program like its other sports. There will be tryouts, a hired coach and regular practices. And more importantly, the team will represent the university in competitive esports tournaments.
Marquette Wire noted MU’s plans “to create a state-of-the-art esports facility to host the new team with funding from corporate partners and donors.” The facility will be accessible to esports athletes and the general student body.
But, according to the Athletics spokesperson Scott Kuykendall, the athletic department will not start giving out scholarships to prospective esports participants but it is “certainly a possibility down the road.”
The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, in close collaboration with the Division of Student Affairs, the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, and the Office of Admissions, will manage the new varsity team.
Universities are adding programs, celebrities are getting involved, it’s safe to say the esports craze is super real. And especially since news previously dropped that this industry will soon hit the billion dollar mark.
Brands that once were hesitant to join the market are now deep-diving in head first.
Hopefully, the newly anointed esports virgins will take things step-by-step and not rush the process. The big dollar signs can make anyone go Birdbox crazy. But, there should always be direction and purpose with any organization or brands involvement.
The days of shunning gamers are gone and now we welcome in a new era.