The NCAA has opted not to govern collegiate esports, after exploring the topic and working with a consultancy group to figure out how to approach the growing industry.
Sports Business Journal (SBJ), a sister publication to The Esports Observer, reports that the NCAA’s Board of Governors unanimously voted on April 30 to table the issue indefinitely, marking the end of this current round of consideration and exploration.
In October, SBJ’s Ben Fischer wrote about the NCAA’s process and the challenges facing the collegiate sports organization as it considered governing and building championships around esports. Chicago-based Intersport consulted the NCAA and collected feedback from member schools about the proposed initiative.
“The research will play a key role in better defining the current college esports landscape, including participation levels, leadership structure, and potential areas of growth,” the NCAA said in a prepared statement to SBJ in November. “The NCAA will continue to evaluate how it can best support its members as they pursue and adopt esports programs.”
Some of the biggest challenges facing the NCAA’s adoption of college esports included how Title IX regulations would impact participation and scholarships, as well as how the NCAA would determine eligibility rules given the prize money typically offered via competition. There were also concerns that the NCAA would simply apply established rules from its traditional sports programs, and that restrictive regulations could stifle the growth of collegiate esports.
For now, it appears that there will be no movement on the NCAA’s part, allowing third-party organizations to continue developing the space and establishing leagues and competitions.
College League of Legends and Collegiate Rocket League are two examples of official collegiate esports properties, while the National Association of Collegiate Esports has more than 130 member schools. Just last week, ESPN held its first Collegiate Esports Championship in Houston, with 22 qualified teams from 20 schools competing in such games as Overwatch and Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition .