Marquette creates Big East's first varsity esports program

Marquette University will launch a varsity esports team this fall, the school announced Thursday, making it the first Big East institution to create a university-sponsored esports team.

"Marquette embraces new methods of teaching and areas of study, and esports and gaming in general have the potential to impact both while also helping to strengthen our student recruitment prospects in an increasingly competitive environment," school president Michael R. Lovell said in a statement.

The program will be run like any other varsity sport, with tryouts, a coach, regular practices and events at which the team will represent Marquette. The university has had an esports club team since 2015, featuring about 40 students who already represent the school at Big East-sponsored tournaments.

"Marquette has been closely watching the development of esports, both as a global trend and as an integral part of the future of the Big East Conference," said athletics director Bill Scholl, who added that he expects the team to work with the department of computer science and provide engagement opportunities for other students.

In December, the Big East and Riot Games announced a partnership to launch a college League of Legends tournament this spring, featuring seven of the 10 conference's schools, including Marquette. The regular season leading up to the tournament began Sunday and runs through early March, with matches played every Sunday.

"College students make up one of the largest groups of League of Legends players in North America," Riot college esports lead Michael Sherman said in a statement, "and when combined with the Big East entrance into League of Legends, Marquette's investment charts a course for being a strong force in college esports."

-- Field Level Media