Marquette University is set to become the first institution in the NCAA Division I to launch its own varsity esports team.
The university’s team, which will come later in 2019, will be built and handled in the same manner as other varsity sports, including tryouts, the hiring of a coach, and regular practice.
The team will be managed by the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics alongside the Division of Student Affairs, the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, and the Office of Admissions. Marquette University believes participating in esports will “positively impact student engagement and enrollment”.
Michael R. Lovell, President of Marquette University said the following in a statement: “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. Marquette embraces new methods of teaching and areas of study, and esports and gaming in general have the potential to impact both, while also helping to strengthen our student recruitment prospects in an increasingly competitive environment.”
The university has been working with marketing and consultancy firm Intersport to structure its esports program, and it will work with corporate partners to build an area for its varsity team to practice on-campus.
Bill Scholl, Vice President and Director of Athletics at Marquette University also commented: “Marquette has been closely watching the development of esports, both as a global trend and as an integral part of the future of the BIG EAST Conference,” said . “We expect that our varsity esports team will collaborate closely with our Department of Computer Science, positively impact student recruitment, and provide an avenue for leadership development and teamwork opportunities for students who many not otherwise have been engaged in activities outside the classroom.”
Marquette University has an esports club team that houses roughly 40 students, who mainly study STEM fields, taking part. It competes in BIG EAST’s esports events.
Esports Insider says: This is a great move by Marquette University and we fully expect its rival institutions to follow suit before long, especially as esports continues to grow in numerous avenues. This is further proof that the industry is on its way to acceptance in mainstream education.