NCAA and esports? Not just yet as organization tables possibility

Photo: Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA is not willing to wade into the world of esports — not yet, anyway.

The organization’s board of governors voted unanimously late last month to table the possibility of overseeing and holding championships for esports, NCAA spokesperson Christopher Radford confirmed to USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday. It is immediately unclear if or when the NCAA plans to revisit the issue.

The esports industry, in which teams or individuals compete against one another in video games, has grown substantially in recent years — leading to the creation of professional teams and leagues in a variety of games, and esports personalities who routinely net six-figure salaries.

At the college level, a number of schools — including the University of California at Berkley, Robert Morris University and Boise State — are offering scholarships for “League of Legends” gamers, while Ohio State has created an esports program that encompasses academics, research and competition. Marquette will even field a varsity esports program beginning in the fall.

NCAA president Mark Emmert expressed concerns about embracing esports at the organization’s annual convention in January, citing concerns with Title IX, among others. He said the vast majority of esports competitors are male.

“We know a lot of the content is hugely misogynistic,” Emmert said, according to The Associated Press. “We know that some of the content is really violent. We don’t particularly embrace games where the objective is to blow your opponent’s head off. We know there are serious concerns about health and wellness around those games.”

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