After being ranked number one for its Entertainment Arts and Engineering (EAE) undergraduate program by the Princeton Review, the University Of Utah (U) will become the first one to offer noteworthy scholarships for competitive video gaming. The university announced on Wednesday that their EAE video gaming development program had come up with an innovative varsity "sports program." EAE students published nine games last year, and 12 more games are coming this year.

The rise of 'esports'

According to the release, the esports program will be sponsored by the EAE video game development program.

Robert Kessler, the director of EAE said that the program is a great opportunity for their students, the on campus gaming community, and Utah fans to come together and watch the players hone their skills and play. College esports is still fairly new, but it has scores of teams sponsored by student gaming clubs all over America.

The new scholarship scheme

According to Consumerist, each of the 35 members on the esports team is entitled to at least $1,000 in partial scholarship support annually, but the plan does not stop there. The university also has plans to offer full scholarships to their students. The University of Utah’s student club team, Crimson Gaming, along with the administration they have on campus have played an important part in developing the new team.

Utah is the first school in the Power Five, a group of the five richest athletic conferences in college sports, to offer these deals to their students.

Will others join?

“The U has seen a rise in esports on campus, accompanied by distinct benefits from this community,” President David W. Pershing said. The university is seeing students from various backgrounds and interests engaging with one another in an inclusive, competitive gaming environment.

Discuss this news on Eunomia

A.J. Dimick, director of operations for the university’s new esports program hopes that the new collegiate team will kick-start the rest of the Power Five schools into creating and sponsoring their own teams. The U’s EAE was launched in 2007, and the program has been in the top three since 2011.