University of Utah launches League of Legends college-sponsored varsity program, other games to be added

The University of Utah is getting a college-sponsored varsity esports program. (Riot Games)

The University of Utah and its Entertainment Arts & Engineering video game development program has announced the formation of a first college-sponsored varsity esports program.

This marks the first time a program of its nature has been launched by a school in the “power five” of athletics conferences; the Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12, Atlantic Coast, and Southeastern conferences. League of Legends will be the first featured game, with more games to be “announced shortly.”

The University of Utah’s esports program will be sponsored by its Entertainment Arts & Engineering video game development program, which has been ranked the number one video game design program by The Princeton Review three times, according to the press release. Scholarships will also be available.

The program’s director of operations, A.J. Dimick, hopes that the new initiative will encourage other Power Five schools to form their own university-sponsored teams.

“It is important for big colleges and their administrations to jump in,” Dimick said in a press release. “And we hope to encourage that.”

In January this year Riot Games and the Big Ten Network launched a new collegiate season, sponsored by the conference. Maryland University beat Illinois University in a 3-0 series to take home the win. If the season is deemed successful, Riot Games may expand the concept to other conferences.