The National Association of Collegiate eSports (NAC eSports) officially launched on Wednesday, with its remit to provide “legitimacy and structure for esports programs officially recognized by their college or university”.
NAC eSports is a member driven organisation that has the dual aim of creating and supporting varsity esports clubs at the collegiate level.
There are six founding member institutions. These are Columbia College (Mo.), Indiana Institute of Technology, Maryville University (Mo.), Midland University (Neb.), Robert Morris University (Ill.) and University of Pikeville (Ky.). This has been expanded to 20 institutions for the 2016-17 academic calendar with additional institutions expected to join throughout the year.
As it stands NAC eSports is the only association of college and university sponsored esports programs that promotes the education and development of students through intercollegiate esports participation and the institutional commitment to support those initiatives.
Eric VanHoose, University of Pikeville Esports Head Coach said: “We are entering our second year as a varsity esports program and are thrilled to be one of the founding members of NAC eSports.
“The association is providing a legitimate structure for varsity programs to grow and compete in the esports ecosystem.”
NAC eSports provides a structure to varsity esports regardless of the size of institution. Miami University is amongst the largest with an enrollment of nearly 19,000 on its main campus while DigiPen Institute of Technology has a total enrollment of approximately 1,000 students.
Part of the qualification criteria for NAC eSports membership is that institutions must be fully accredited by an authorised higher educational accrediting agency relative to their region and national affiliation.
In addition programs must be officially endorsed by the school that they represent. NAC eSports’ framework allows students to receive esports specific scholarships from the institutions they attend.
As well as providing a consistent competitive structure for current varsity esports programs, NAC eSports looks to be a resource for college club and start-up programs looking to move into the varsity space.
The hope is seemingly that college esports can go the way of college football and college basketball in attracting big audiences and big money.
Michael Brooks, NAC eSports Director commented: “NAC eSports is a member driven association that focuses on developing eSports programs from the institutional level.
“We want to further expand the ecosystem by providing a home for existing varsity programs, while also acting as a resource for club teams wanting to move to varsity or for institutions that want to start a team.”
The inaugural NAC eSports Invitational will take place in the spring of 2017, followed by full regular-season and postseason competitions coming in the 2017-18 academic year.
Interested parties can find out more by accessing the NAC eSports site here.