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Old Dominion adds varsity esports for fall 2020

Old Dominion will begin offering varsity esports in the fall of 2020, the school announced Thursday. ODU has also become a member of the National Association of Collegiate Esports, which includes more than 160 schools. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Old Dominion will become the first Division I university in Virginia to add varsity esports, the program announced Thursday.

ODU, which is primarily known nationally for its wrestling and basketball programs, will begin competition in esports in the fall of 2020, according to a statement. The program will become a member of the National Association of Collegiate Esports, a group that has more than 160 member schools across North America.

"We see the esports and gamification phenomenon happening at all levels of education and professional development," Grant Deppen, assistant director of intramural sports for ODU, said in a statement. "This program and facility will provide significant opportunities for students to hone their skills for majors such as game design studies, graphic design, sport management, cybersecurity, modeling & simulation, computer engineering and computer science and many of the other academic disciplines that the university offers."

ODU's Department of Recreation and Wellness will manage the new program, according to the statement. The Monarchs' esports program will operate out of an approximately 2,400-square-foot space at the Webb University Center, an on-campus community gathering spot. The facility also will be the broadcast hub for the varsity team and feature recreational stations for other students.

ODU did not specify what games it will offer when the esports program launches or scholarship amounts for students. However, the university said it would allow students to collect prize money and scholarship dollars that are available through tournament prize pools.

"There are two large gaming student organizations on campus currently: the ODU Esports Club and the Super Smash Association." Grant Deppen, assistant director of intramural sports for ODU, said in a statement. "The ODU Esports Club plays competitively in Rocket League, League of Legends, Overwatch, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and others."