American League of Legends players could earn themselves university scholarships off the back of their multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) skills, with Robert Morris University (RMU) Illinois in Chicago introducing eSports into their varsity athletic program.
RMU will join over 100 other institutions, including Harvard, Arizona State, and George Washington University, in the Collegiate StarLeague (CSL), which organises competitions in DOTA 2, StarCraft 2, HearthStone, and will soon add League of Legends to its calendar. However, RMU will be the first to introduce eSports at a varsity level and offer scholarships, with other universities' involvement all based around player-organised clubs.
"After we looked into League of Legends, frankly I was shocked at the scale and the size, and how passionate the community is," Kurt Melcher, associate athletic director at RMU, told IGN. "We give scholarships for a variety of different interests, along with traditional sports like football, basketball, soccer. So we thought, 'Why wouldn't we give scholarships for this?'"
Eligible students can receive up to 50 per cent off tuition and boarding fees, amounting to US$19,000 per year. The school is planning to recruit 27 players, a nine-person main starter team, and two support teams.
"I hope we're not the last school to do what we're doing," Melcher said. "The CSL is so well organised already, but I would love to see it go a step farther. If we're the first of many, that would be spectacular."