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Jan 06, 2015 02:56 PM EST

University of Pikeville to Add eSports to Athletic Department, Will Grant Video Game Scholarships


The University of Pikeville (UPIKE) has become just the second school in the nation to offer athletic scholarships for video game players.

According to WYMT, UPIKE first made the game League of Legends an official sport, becoming the second school in the U.S. to do so after Robert Morris University in Chicago. Video gaming may eventually be expanded to include other games in their eSport division.

"Ten players compete to try and get to the other person's base," Eric VanHoose, a UPIKE graduate who will coach the school's League of Legends team, told WYMT.

Bruce Parsons, the school's new media director, said there are plenty of parallels between League of Legends and other team sports.

"It's actually becoming a worldwide trend," he told WYMT. "This game is five on five competitive play. It takes skill, practice and a lot of teamwork.

"I think there are going to be a lot of students, both nationwide and international, who are going to look at our university who wouldn't have before."

Along with Cheer and Dance, eSports is the school's third co-ed sport, according to their official athletic website. UPIKE's eSports division will be the Collegiate Star League (CSL), which currently has leagues for games like StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, League of Legends and Dota 2.

"In our research and interaction with gamers at this level, we learned that they are extremely competitive, but also hard workers, valuable team members and quite often have a high level of aptitude in using technology," UPIKE President Dr. James L. Hurley said in a press release. "In addition to being good gamers, they will be good students and will bring an exciting new dynamic to our campus.

"We want to teach our students to use new technology like it is second nature and be able to translate what makes a good League of Legends player into a good student. Our students will be involved in emerging global trends while offering great technology opportunities right here at home."

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