ATHENS, W.Va. — The Nick Rahall Technology Center on the campus of Concord University will be buzzing with plenty of gamers in the near future.
Concord University announced that it will be adding a eSports varsity level sports program that will include an arena in that facility. The institution is set to become the first public college or university in West Virginia to offer eSports to its students.
The addition comes after a suggestion from a student to President Kendra Boggess and a long research process to see how much interest there was on campus.
Lindsay Byars, the Communications Liazon for Concord said interest was overwhelming.
“When they survived students more than 80-percent were interested in having this at Concord,” she said. “That really showed that the demand was already here and it gives you the opportunity to pull in all different kinds of students.”
The school is currently looking for a head coach for the program that will specialize in three games including League of Legends, Overwatch and Call of Duty. According to Byars, they don’t have a parameter for potential scholarships to be on the team until hiring a coach. Anyone that wants to be on the team will submit game film like any other sport, which the coach will review.
“The coach would have to be somebody who not only has that gaming experience but has that ability to schedule for different tournaments, to keep the team together, practice schedules and be able to maintain the program as a whole,” she said. “They have to be able to recruit like you would for a coach of any sport.”
Byars said eSports is not under the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) like the rest of Concord’s athletic program as it does not have a governing body yet. 63 other institutions in the country have eSports, including West Virginia Wesleyan and most are under National Association of Collegiate eSports sanction.
The funding for the program and the arena housing the team came from private donations.
The building of the arena will not need to be a huge process as they can re-purpose old labs and other rooms, Byars said. The eSports arena will have a varsity area where only the varsity team can practice and a lounge area. There will also be a community area in the arena with PC’s and gaming set up for people that are not on the team. That is with the purpose of holding community events there as well.
“You go into their dorm rooms and they are all playing games,” Byars said. “This gives them the opportunity to compete. When we get the arena built, it will give all students the opportunity to come in and play together. It’s got a real opportunity to pull the campus together and then the community together as well.”
The university hopes that it grow the campus and opportunities academically as well.
“A lot of universities that do have eSports have programs gear towards marketing, entrepreneurship, video game design, graphic design,” she said. “There is a lot of possibilities within the eSports realm. There are careers that are springing up everywhere. Hopefully, we will be able to tailor some classes that we even already have to careers in the eSports realm.”
Byars said the university hopes to release for information on the team in the coming weeks. They will attempt to live stream any tournaments and gameplay online. For more information on the program, click here.
“Not only will starting a varsity eSports team allow more students to compete on the collegiate level, the university hopes to use this as a springboard for future courses,” President Kendra Boggess said in a released statement last week.
West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon added eSports last Fall.