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Volume 25 No. 27
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Conference Commissioners Split On Whether NCAA Should Sanction Esports

As the NCAA continues to investigate what its role will it play when it comes to esports, conference commissioners weighed in on their feelings on their conferences involvement. “It’s a misnomer. It isn’t sports,” said Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who added that he believes it is misaligned with the conference’s core business. He added, “I can’t think of a single motivation to get involved in esports except for the money.” In response, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott joked that he hoped Bowlsby’s comment was recorded and could be replayed “several years from now when esports is an NCAA sport." The Pac-12, which spent about two years studying esports but chose not to move forward with it as an official sport, was intrigued by how esports could enable its campuses to compete in other ways. It ultimately chose not to move forward because there still remains questions if the schools should be promoting the player of video games, and how it would govern it. Scott said that while the conference was not going forward with the idea at the moment, he expected the discussion “will come back to the conference in a few years.” He said, “It does not fit with our traditional definition of sports, but I think that is evolving.”

PAYING ATTENTION: Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman said the way her conference is rationalizing its involvement is that it views esports as a “institutional collaboration” between its schools, providing an opportunity for them to come together and build the brands of both the schools and the conferences, as well as possibly generate some revenue and create more engagement with students on campus who are interested in esports. Noting the investment from the pro leagues in esports, Ackerman said esports is “growing, it’s global and the pro leagues are eyeing this very closely; our thought is that we’ve got be paying attention.” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said that while the conference still believes esports does not fit its mission at this point in time, it also “doesn’t want to be in a position to not understand it, and by not educating ourselves missing an opportunity we should have taken advantage of.” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said that while he believes esports is clearly a competitive endeavor, he said “It’s e-competition, e-gaming. Is it esports? It’s great labeling that’s been introduced that probably has created some of this consideration.”