The popularity of competitive budget game playing has been booming and universities are beginning to take notice. League of legend worlds finals had 43 million views in 18 different languages where the NBA finals game seven received on 31 million viewers. In 2016 esports brought in 323 million viewers in 2016, according to a study.
With this massive flux in viewership many of universities have warmed up to the opportunity to offer competitive esports scholarships. The first Trail Blazers to collegiate esports programs would be both UC Irvine and Robert Morris. Although this was an initial step in Esports in the US it was far from groundbreaking, until recent events.
According to SB nation, The University of Utah planned to offer not only varsity esports but 30 future scholarships.
The school recently announced plans to launch a varsity esports program, with partial scholarships to start and plans to eventually have over 30 full scholarships. The school will start with a League of Legends team, and eventually expand to three other video game titles to be named in the coming weeks. The university of Utah plans on using League of Legends as it’s first varsity sports titles.
“RMU and UC Irvine are pioneers in collegiate esports and have made this an easier journey,” A.J. Dimick, director of operations for Utah’s esports program, told SB Nation. “Creating an esports program at a Power 5 school is uncharted territory, and I suppose we’ll find out how it compares. We’re definitely excited to find out.”