Despite the NCAA rejecting a measure last year that would see it govern a new esports division, there is still a strong, concentrated effort to bring professional gaming to universities. Despite the NCAA and its rejection the dream still lives on and one such Division-1 conference is making a move towards an esports reality. The Mid-American Conference announced today the formation of the Esports Collegiate Conference, a “historic esports venture with a newly created independent esports Conference to facilitate and foster high-quality gaming competition among collegiate esports teams.” While esports at universities isn’t a new thing this is the first time an entire conference of schools has banded together and made progress towards unification.
We. Have. Arrived.
We are Esports Collegiate!
— ESports Collegiate (@ESC_Conference) June 10, 2020
The ESC will initially include 12 founding members are:
- University of Akron
- Ball State University
- Bowling Green State University
- University at Buffalo
- Central Michigan University
- Eastern Michigan University
- Kent State University
- Miami University
- Northern Illinois University
- Ohio University
- University of Toledo
- Western Michigan University
In full disclosure, this reporter is not only an alum of Ohio University but also a longtime supporter of the MAC… Yes, even Miami of Ohio. The conference will feature spring and fall seasons with different games making up each season. Spring will feature Overwatch and League of Legends while fall will potentially see any combination of Rocket League, Fortnite, Super Smash Bros., Madden, or FIFA. Notably, shooters like Call of Duty are not mentioned or included, despite having an enormous esports presence with the Call of Duty League.
“The creation of Esports Collegiate represents the foresight of our presidents to establish a stand-alone competitive framework for collegiate esports competitors and enthusiasts,” said Mid-American Conference Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher in the release.
The move is exciting for a number of reasons, but primarily that it gives esports a stronger collective foothold at the collegiate level. All of the teams involved have grassroots beginnings that started with fans of gaming getting together for the sake of growing and learning. Now the potential for esports to become a major component of college competition is one step closer to reality.