BELLEVUE, Neb. -- The Bellevue University Athletic Department announced today that it will launch eSports as a new varsity intercollegiate sport beginning in the fall of 2017. Bellevue will become one of just a few universities in the country to offer athletic scholarships for eSports competitors.
Initially competing in the League of Legends online gaming platform, eSports matches up teams of competitors representing other colleges in online competition. The Bruins will be a member of the Collegiate Starleague and the National Association of Collegiate eSports.
"I am very excited to be on the ground floor of a new chapter of collegiate competition," said BU Athletic Director Ed Lehotak. "It is always exciting to be able to say you're among the first to offer and fund a new athletic opportunity and incorporate many new student-athletes into our athletic department. The program, coaching staff, and student-athletes will have full access to everything our department has to offer and will receive our unwavering support."
Bellevue will offer athletic scholarships to both male and female student-athletes, who will begin competing in eSports this fall. The university also announced the hiring of its first eSports head coach, Alex Rogers. Interested recruits can contact Coach Rogers via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 402.557.7611, or by filling out a prospective athlete questionnaire.
"I'm excited to be a part of this amazing opportunity here at Bellevue University," said Rogers. "Our first title, League of Legends, is the most popular game in the world. Millions of people play and watch the game internationally, oftentimes at large tournaments which are held in well-known venues such as the Staples Center and Madison Square Garden. These events sell out each time they are held."
The university has begun the design and construction of a competition venue within the current athletic department's main facility, the Gordon Lozier Athletic Center. The venue will consist of high-end gaming computers, mice, headsets, consoles and gaming chairs.
"While League of Legends is the most popular game in the world, Bellevue University plans to add other popular eSports titles in the future," added Rogers. "Our eSports program will have scholarship opportunities for the eSports team. This is an exciting time as eSports has exploded onto the scene and become a competitive sport at both the professional and collegiate levels."
The addition of eSports brings the total number of programs offered by the university to 10. Bellevue's other varsity sport programs include men's soccer, women's soccer, volleyball, men's basketball, women's basketball, men's golf, women's golf, softball, and baseball.
Notes: For those who are new to eSports, here is a simple explanation of League of Legends. The game consists of two teams and each team has five players. Both teams play on the same 'map' similar to a basketball team always playing on the same court. Each team begins on separate sides of the map and throughout the game, players can score 'points' and gain valuable positioning for their team. The ultimate goal is to work their way into the opposing team's camp to eliminate their base.