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Volume 25 No. 194
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Riot Games Creates College "League Of Legends" Governing Body

Riot Games is creating a stand-alone governing body for collegiate “League of Legends” esports, according to a source. The move comes weeks after the NCAA BOG decided not to establish a framework for esports governance, and further entrenches the precedent that game publishers, not the NCAA or other third parties, will control college esports. Riot’s new governing body will remain wholly owned and controlled by the company. However, it will be structured as a separate division in the same way that its 13 pro leagues are, including the LCS (in the U.S.) and the LEC (Europe). The governing body will have different challenges from the pro leagues though, the source said. The pro esports leagues involve freestanding, independently capitalized team businesses that control their own rights and assets. But a mature college esports scene will require buy-in from schools, their campus constituencies and conferences and coordination across bureaucracies. The new governing body will be charged with navigating those relationships. A key feature will be an external advisory board made up of college sports and higher education experts, the source said.

NCAA TABLES THE TOPIC: The NCAA BOG during an April 30 meeting voted unanimously to table esports for an indefinite period, after tying, 6-6, on a vote to proceed with developing an esports plan. There were always fundamental challenges. Conference commissioners and ADs were skeptical that esports qualified as an athletic endeavor, while the esports community was resistant to NCAA amateurism laws, which would have restricted players’ ability to win prize money or earn ad revenue or donations through online streaming. At the SBJ Intercollegiate Athletics Forum in December, NCAA President Mark Emmert said developing a strategy for esports was one of his most pressing priorities and that he had targeted the end of '19 to establish a position on esports. The board came to a resolution much sooner.