At least 5 colleges now have League of Legends, esports scholarship programs
Columbia College became the latest school to offer scholarship programs for League of Legends players earlier this week. While the Missouri college joins a small list of schools that have made headlines with video game scholarships, even more universities have explored the idea of starting up varsity esports programs behind the scenes, according to Riot Games’ Media Relations Manager Bob Colayco.
So a dedicated League of Legends team could be coming to a college campus near you very soon.
Multiple colleges have approached Riot looking to add esports scholarships, Calyco told the Daily Dot. Still, “it doesn’t always happen” that these interested schools start a program, he said. Riot also isn’t actively soliciting colleges to start up programs. “It’s more of a ‘for your information’ type of situation and not an area where licensing or permission is sought, at this time.”
Columbia College is looking for two teams and two alternate players, as well as a part-time coach who will be tasked with finding talented individuals in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas for a Fall 2016 start.
“Esports aren’t the future,” Columbia College President Scott Dalrymple said in a statement. “They’re the present. True skill at video gaming is just as impressive—and just as legitimate—as excellence in traditional sports.”
The college's League of Legends players will receive a partial scholarship and need to be enrolled full-time as well as maintain a 2.0 GPA to keep their scholarship, Columbia College’s Director of Esports Bryan Curtis told the Daily Dot. All players will be expected to attend daily practices.
The teams will compete in two of the biggest collegiate esports leagues in the United States and Canada, the Collegiate Starleague and Riot Games’ North American Collegiate Championship. The NACC had 540 teams competing from more than 300 colleges in the U.S. and Canada in 2014.
As a part of its esports initiative Columbia College is also turning a soccer locker room building into its esports home base—complete with Xbox’s and PS4’s for students, staff and faculty to use.
Last year, Robert Morris University in Chicago became the first college to add esports to its athletic program, announcing it would offer partial scholarships to League players. The University of Pikeville in Kentucky also opened up 20 scholarship spots for League of Legends players this fall. Maryville University in St. Louis, and Southwestern University also recently launched esports scholarship programs, according to Colayco.