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Intersport to help NCAA research esports

Company will reach out to schools to learn more about existing clubs

The NCAA announced today it has contracted with Intersport, a Chicago-based marketing and consulting firm, to further its exploration of the collegiate esports landscape.

Intersport will assist with engaging a variety of collegiate esports stakeholders, with outreach to schools representing all three NCAA divisions beginning in early December. Work will conclude with a final report to the NCAA in the spring.

“At the request of the NCAA Board of Governors, we’re taking a step forward by working with NCAA membership to understand current interest in and support of esports,” said Joni Comstock, NCAA senior vice president of championships. “Ultimately, we hope to determine if the NCAA should have a role in supporting growth in this rapidly expanding space.” 

Specifically, the Association wants to learn more about how existing esports clubs and programs are structured, funded and administered, Comstock said.

Many NCAA member schools already are participating in esports. More than 475 colleges and universities currently support esports at a club level, and approximately 50 schools offer scholarships in esports.

The NCAA selected Intersport through an open bid process this fall. The deciding factors included the depth of relationships throughout the esports industry and, in particular, with collegiate esports programs and clubs. The Intersport Esports Group includes Kurt Melcher, executive director of esports, who established the first varsity collegiate esports program, in 2014 at Robert Morris University Illinois.

“We are thrilled to work with the NCAA because they are fully committed to examining what is taking place on campuses across the country. It’s an exciting opportunity to determine if the NCAA can enhance collegiate esports for all constituents through their involvement,” Melcher said. “We look forward to engaging NCAA membership, esports club leaders, students and publishers over the coming months.”