Colleges and universities from all over the country are adding eSports to its list of intercollegiate athletic programs. Midland University in Fremont, Nebraska is taking it a step further, joining Columbia College, Robert Morris University, the University of Maryville and the University of Pikeville in offering scholarships to their virtual athletes. Midland University will launch eSports as its 28th intercollegiate varsity program this fall.
As competitive as eSports is, it was never taken very seriously until recently. With prize pools in the millions of dollars range and athletes earning hundreds of thousands of dollars within a season, colleges and universities are finally catching on. Midland University is one such school, and it seems it understands that the time, dedication and fulfillment students gain from traditional extracurricular activities such as sports and performing arts is similar to that of eSports.
“At Midland, we enable students to pursue their passions in community,” said Midland University President Jody Horner. “Whether they are participating in traditional athletics, the performing arts, or emerging eSports, we find that students who are highly engaged in extracurricular activities are more successful academically.”
Midland also believes that higher education should be accessible to those interested in technologically-driven fields, and offering eSports scholarships might just attract such students. To wit, the (presumably) skilled gamer competitors that the university attracts will also be given free room and board on top of the academic scholarships they receive.
Midland also plans on renovating the campus gaming facilities; the Midland Warriors, the university's gaming organization, will receive a revamped competitive gaming arena. So far, the Warriors have a competitive League of Legends team, and they will explore other games soon.
Alexander Quejado is an Associate Contributing Writer for Tom’s Hardware and Tom’s IT Pro. Follow Alexander Quejado on Twitter.