According to Michael Brooks, executive director of the National Association of Collegiate eSports (NACE), over 450 schools offer esports clubs and 71 currently field varsity teams providing scholarships worth $9 million, a number which is expected to double this year.
“It’s chaotic, exciting, frantic,” Brooks said when discussing esports becoming more prominent in college athletics. “It’s great to see all the groups that we’ve been having conversations with, we’ve been doing studies with, for the last two years almost see results — it’s almost like we’re starting to reach that point of critical mass.”
Last week, NACE partnered with High School Esports League (HSEL) to help grow the recruiting process of esports athletes. One of the challenges for colleges is finding the best esports competitors, NACE expects their new partnership will change that.
“Our partnership is an important step in laying down the foundation of streamlined recruitment from the high school space to the collegiate,” said Brooks in a statement. “By working with HSEL, and organizations like it, we will be able to educate directly to students.”
In December, the NCAA began researching how it could get involved with college esports. Joni Comstock, the NCAA’s senior vice-president of championships said, “Ultimately, we hope to determine if the NCAA should have a role in supporting growth in this rapidly expanding space.”
A report regarding the future of college esports is expected to be released by the NCAA and an independent firm this April. Having an established recruiting process should help the NCAA grow the sport as part of college athletics.