EPHRAIM, Utah (April 5, 2019) – The Snow College Board of Trustees has unanimously approved a new, varsity-level esports program which will begin in the fall of 2019. The esports program, which consists of students who compete in online gaming against other colleges or universities, will be housed in the Snow College Athletics Department. This innovate approach marks the first esports program to be administered by a school’s athletic department in the state of Utah.
Under the direction of Athletics Director Rob Nielson, the school’s Director of Student Success, Jason Springer, and Assistant Director of Academic Advising and Completion Initiatives, Landon Peterson, will serve as associate head coaches for the esports program, beginning fall 2019.
“We are excited about the addition of esports and the opportunities it presents for our students,” Snow College President Gary Carlston said. “I am especially interested in seeing these students succeed in their games as well as academically as they integrate their program into our academic curriculum. This is new territory for most higher education institutions, and I appreciate the research and work our staff and students have completed to help us be on the forefront of this fast-moving trend.”
Esports consists of students playing competitive video games against other collegiate teams over the internet. As the online gaming industry continues to evolve, Snow College will look to position itself as a major player in the college esports landscape. The school will add a varsity program this fall, and has plans to include a gaming club, intramural esports leagues, as well as an esports lounge on campus for students who enjoy recreational gaming.
“This is an innovative and historic partnership between athletics, academic affairs, and student affairs,” Springer said. “We plan to engage the entire campus community in gaming from the varsity level down to the more casual, intramural leagues we will establish. Perhaps the most exciting part of this plan is the highly interdisciplinary academic curriculum we are building to support students who are interested in careers in the $137 billion gaming industry.”
Springer anticipates the academic pathways program for students who are interested in the online gaming industry will be launched in the fall of 2020.
There are over 2.3 billion gamers across the globe who spent in excess of $137 billion on gaming in 2018, according to Newzoo.com. Online gaming is larger than the movie and music industries combined and represents a 13.3 percent increase over the previous year.
“This is going to be a game-changer for Snow College as we seek to support students at all interest levels in gaming at the competitive, social, and academic levels,” said Peterson.