MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — Minnesota State University, Mankato announced Thursday it will launch a varsity esports team that is scheduled to begin play in spring 2021.
Minnesota State Mankato’s IT Solutions division will celebrate the university’s new varsity esports team at a ribbon-cutting event at the team’s training facility, located in the remodeled space in Wissink Hall.
“We are excited to start a varsity esports program at Minnesota State University, Mankato,” said Mark Johnson, vice president and chief information officer at Minnesota State University, Mankato. “Esports is one of the fastest-growing competitive sports at colleges and universities across the nation. Many Minnesota State Mankato students already play esports through student clubs, and we are pleased to now offer a varsity esports experience to our students as well.”
The esports team will become a member of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), a nonprofit membership association organized by and on behalf of its member institutions.
Minnesota State Mankato’s esports team is a member of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), a nonprofit membership association organized by and on behalf of its member institutions.
Mitch Wallerstedt, chief operations officer for IT Solutions, will be the director of the varsity esports team. He says the team is currently recruiting students now and plans to hire a head coach soon.
In its first season, the MSU esports program is expecting to compete in League of Legends, but is also currently exploring CS:GO and EA Sports titles as well. Most competitions will be streamed online for fan viewing.
The university has also reached a sponsorship agreement with Dell Alienware, which will become the program’s official equipment sponsor.
Depending on the interest of current Minnesota State students, Wallerstedt said the university expects the varsity esports program will organize two or three teams within its program during the 2020-21 academic year. He added the esports team will work with register student organizations on campus, as well as Campus Recreation to further develop the team, intramural play opportunities and varsity competition.
In addition to current students, Wallerstedt said the team hopes to recruit high school students who play esports to join the program.
Wallerstedt estimated the startup cost for the program is approximately $60,000, with annual operating costs estimated at approximately $25,000. Funds for the program will come from student fees. He also stated the program has potential for future revenue through additional sponsorships and streaming advertisements, and that students have the potential to earn scholarship winnings in tournament play.
The team will not have any initial travel or recruiting costs, as travel is only expected if teams qualify for championships at the end of the season.