NECC to Support Newly-Formed Big Esports Conference


The esports programs that compete  within traditional Big Ten Conference universities, announced today the creation of the Big Esports Conference. 

The newly-formed entity will officially begin its first year of competition in October and it will culminate with an in-person two day championship event in April. 

Each of the esports programs from the conference’s current 14 members will be competing in the Big Esports Conference, as will the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Southern California as they will be officially joining the Big Ten prior to the start of the 2024-25 academic year.

“This is both an exciting and necessary step for the world of collegiate esports, as the number of institutions supporting esports rapidly grows in the traditional Division 1 world,” said Kevin Palmer, Assistant Director of Esports & Intramural Sports at the University of Michigan. 

Additionally, The Big Esports Conference also announced that it is partnering with the National Esports Collegiate Conference (NECC) to oversee and manage their competition. The NECC is one of the largest collegiate esports conferences in North America, and was selected by the member institutions to ensure safe and fair competition. 

“The Big Ten member institutions have a notoriously large active alumni and fanbase for their traditional sports, and we are excited to be able to bring esports into that conversation and excitement,” continued Palmer. “This year will have bumps and setbacks, but with the support of the NECC and LeagueOS, and the resilience of the student and staff leadership of our member schools, we can’t wait to get started!” 

“We’re ecstatic to be partnering with the Big Esports Conference on this initiative,” said NECC CEO Jacob VanRyn. “It’s truly an honor for our organization to be selected to work with such prestigious universities and the committed leaders in the collegiate esports space at each of these institutions. We’re excited to launch the effort this fall.”

LeagueOS will serve as the Big Esports Conference’s official competition platform. 

"It's an honor and a thrill to be supporting these Big Ten programs as they reignite their historic rivalries around esports," said LeagueOS CEO and co-founder Marty Wetherall. "As a Minnesota startup rooted in Big Ten country, and personally as a proud Trojan alumni from USC, we represent the fans and we'll be rooting right along with them as the season unfolds on the Big Esports LeagueOS site." (

The Big Esports Conference will be sponsoring a regular season and postseason effort in Overwatch 2, Rocket League, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and Valorant. The conference will feature a 16-week regular season, and, similar to traditional athletic competition, will crown a regular season champion in each of the four titles in March. 

Alongside the management of the conference competition, working with the leaders of the Big Esports Conference, the NECC will also be creating tailored rulesets for the upcoming season, and will be providing specialized and experienced staffing for the newly-formed league. 

The Big Esports Conference will officially begin competition on Monday, October 9th with Overwatch 2 action. 

The postseason conference championship will take place in April. The dates and location for the two-day postseason championships will be announced in the coming weeks. 

For extended information about the Big Esports Conference, the National Esports Collegiate Conference, LeagueOS or to schedule an interview with representatives of any of the organizations, please direct your correspondence to:

“The Big Esports Conference is the next step in building upon existing rivalries and traditions to energize and engage students and alumni through esports. This creates many opportunities for us at Michigan State University to connect with students and alumni in ways we haven't been able to before, and provides something recognizable and relatable to those outside the esports space.”
Christopher Bilski, Director of Esports at Michigan State University

"When I first reached out to the BIG10 and engaged the other schools across the conference, I had no idea there would be this much interest and support to ultimately lead to the creation of the Big Esports Conference. The grass roots creation of the Big Esports Conference shows that collegiate schools are serious about esports and ready to take the next step in advancing esports competition to the highest level."
Doug Goon, Assistant Athletic Director at the University of Minnesota. 

"The Big Esports Conference is an important step for the future of collegiate esports and the activity as a whole. Student passion is at the heart of esports, and this conference is a recognition of the hard work done by student groups throughout the years to establish the activity at the college level. It serves as a proof of concept for schools at every level of education that esports is coming into its own.” 
John Price, Esports Manager at The Ohio State University. 

"I know our team is very excited to work with the newly-formed Big Esports Conference. We’ll continue to do everything in our power to provide each of the players competing with an outstanding experience as we have always done in the NECC. Personally, being a former student and player at a Big Ten  institution (Indiana University), it’s extremely meaningful for me to help be able to bring this back on such a large scale. 
Mitch Gilchrist, Game Operations Director at the NECC

The Big Esports Conference was founded as a collaborative effort amongst current Big Ten institutions, and is built on the principles of creating an environment where students can lead and grow as professionals. 

The Big Esports Conference is also the first officially organized power 5 school conference for esports, that has all members from the traditional conference participating. 

The conference looks to follow many traditions and features that fans are familiar with in traditional sports, such as providing a centralized streaming location for fans to find live and past matches. These streams will be on the Big Esports Conference YouTube Channel, and the streams will be run entirely by students from each participating institution. 

To stay up to date, with the latest Big Esports Conference news, be sure to follow them on their Twitter @BigEsportsConf  

Those interested in sponsorships, or being a part of the inaugural season, may reach out to, to inquire.

The NECC fosters innovative competition experiences, provides quality broadcasting services, and works to support an inclusive community within collegiate esports. The NECC was started as a way to provide the collegiate gaming community with the respect it warranted and deserved. The conference prides itself on responding to the needs of its schools, directors, coaches, and most importantly - its players.

With more than 400 colleges and universities currently competing, the NECC strives to be a positive home for the collegiate gaming community.

Since launching out of the Minnesota Twins Accelerator by Techstars in 2022, LeagueOS has become the dominant force in scholastic esports powering a growing number of statewide leagues with its unmatched esports management system. 

It’s the only platform that offers player registration, competition management with unlimited formats, and content production all-in-one, making organizers’ lives easier while giving them and their players more ways to grow. LeagueOS believes in the power of healthy competition to develop critical life skills and connections that help us realize our potential.