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Mount St. Mary's University to Launch Esports Program in 2020

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Mount St. Mary’s University has announced the introduction of esports, one of the fastest growing sports in the world, to its athletic offerings.

Esports will have a dedicated playing space with the latest equipment and technology to support players at the highest level of competition. The program is expected to begin in academic year 2020-21 with between 15 and 25 student-athletes for the first year of competition, including a core group of current students and at least 10 newly recruited students. Games likely to be played include League of Legends, Rocket League, Super Smash Brothers, NBA and FIFA.

The program, which will be affiliated under the National Association of Collegiate eSports (NACE), will be done the “Mount way” in accordance with the university’s values and culture. Esports is not currently supported by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

“Like our 22 NCAA Division I sports and premier men’s rugby team, premier eSports will be supported by a university chaplain and incorporate mind, body and spirit,” said Dean of Student Life Levi Esses, Ed.D., who along with Associate Professor Corinne Farneti, Ph.D., chaired the 16-member Esports Ad Hoc Committee. “In addition, there will be linkages to curriculum, values-based game selection and collaboration with other Catholic teams.” Other Catholic colleges with varsity esports teams include St. Francis University, Sacred Heart University and Providence College.

It is fitting that the Mount plans to include Super Smash Brothers on the play list. Alumnus and entrepreneur Justin Wykowski, C’14, founded the largest Super Smash Brothers conference in the world. It is also appropriate that the Mount list will exclude games that are not consistent with Mount values given the university’s faithfulness to its Catholic identity.

“I can’t wait to join our students in cheering for the esports team,” said President Timothy E. Trainor, Ph.D. “It’s an exciting and intense sport that students can play competitively as well as enjoy watching as a spectator.”

The Mount is currently searching for a director of esports to oversee the program’s operations. The program director will focus on student success in a faith- and values-based environment as well as assisting students in balancing study and esports. Athletes will have special academic support and team study halls as well as practice times and mandatory workouts.

The university also plans to link esports to the curriculum and is considering development of a related minor, according to Corinne Farneti, Ph.D., associate professor of sport management in the Richard J. Bolte, Sr. School of Business.

In addition to Esses and Farneti, members of the Esports Ad Hoc Committee included faculty members Thane Naberhaus, Ph.D., and Athar Rafiq; undergraduate students Laurence Canete, Javon Sankoh and Nolan Key; graduate students Shaadi Jahanbakhsh-Tehran and Jeremy Guzman; Athletics Director Lynne Robinson; Dean of the Richard J. Bolte, S. School of Business Michael Driscoll, Ed.D.; staff members Lucas Dayhoff of Learning Services, Grant Henry of Admissions and Kevin Robinson of Advancement; consultant Simon Blackwell; and the Rev. Martin Moran, chaplain and director of campus ministry.