SBD/August 31, 2017/Colleges

Reaching Out: NCAA Issues RFP For Help Evaluating Possible Role In Esports

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The NCAA has issued an RFP for help in evaluating its possible role in esports, seeking an agency that would present an initial plan to its board of governors in October and continue to advise over the coming year. The document, dated Aug. 25, said bidding agencies should be prepared to “provide options for the NCAA to activate within the esports landscape in a manner that aligns with the organization’s values.” Those options should include a proposed timeline, partnerships, investments and financial commitments that would be required to execute any plan, according to the RFP.  “This is part of the NCAA’s efforts to engage a younger, more diverse group of fans that will provide a connection and loyalty to higher education and collegiate sports,” the RFP reads. However, it is a complicated path. Standard NCAA principles, such as prohibiting players from earning money from their play and strict limits on practice time, run afoul of widespread esports norms. Also, the NCAA wants a thorough review of the current esports landscape, feedback from industry stakeholders on NCAA involvement, barriers to collegiate involvement and options to align with specific publishers and games. Responses to the RFP are due by Sept. 12. The NCAA’s top committee first discussed esports at a meeting earlier this month. An NCAA spokesperson declined to comment on the RFP, aside from confirming the ongoing board of governors discussion (Ben Fischer, Staff Writer).

GETTING IN THE GAME: ESPN.com's Jacob Wolf reported Boise State will "launch a school-sponsored esports team and build a computer lab facility specific to its esports ventures." The program plans to "host teams that will compete in five games, which include League of Legends, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm and Rocket League." BSU also plans to "be a part of the National Association of Collegiate Esports." BSU is the "fourth school to sponsor esports" that also has a D-I football team, alongside the likes of Utah, Georgia State and Miami (Ohio) (ESPN.com, 8/30).
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