The University of Oklahoma was awarded The Esports Collegiate Program of The Year by the Scholars Awards, a global organization initiated by The Esports Awards.
Hosted at Resorts World in Las Vegas, the Scholars and Esports Awards were presented on Nov. 28 and 30 and had a viewership of over 60,000 at the time of announcement.
OU was a finalist in three categories including The Collegiate Gaming Club of The Year for The OU Gaming Club, Collegiate Program of The Year for OU Esports, and Collegiate Director of The Year all representing the OU Esports and Co-Curricular Innovation (ECCI) department within the Division of Student Affairs.
"We are so proud to see the commitment and dedication of OU's gaming and esports community recognized both locally and globally. I've long admired our students' focus on balancing investment in community, professional development, and competition — this honor is so well-deserved and I look forward to their continued development and success," said David Surratt, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students.
OU ECCI’s development of video game culture and esports programs just celebrated its seventh anniversary. There are now over 3,400 members within the OU Gaming Club community.
In the OU Esports programs, there are currently over 225 students focused on programs that replicate many of the same roles and functions seen in grassroots and professional sectors. These contain roles like event planning, tournament organization, production, on-air talent development and formal competition against other universities in sanctioned leagues and tournaments. These students hold a collective 3.13 GPA average in 55+ areas of study with over 70% in STEM fields.
“Regardless of whether a student wants to go into these career paths or not, many students gain soft skills, deeper teamwork synergy, better sportsmanlike behavior, and gain lifelong networks through topics they have actively enjoyed for much of their lives,” said Mike “Moog” Aguilar, OU ECCI director.
Across the university, OU ECCI has been working with academic colleges, including the Michael F. Price College of Business Sports Business program as well as the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, to collaborate and develop curricula for creative media production majors.
“It’s been an incredibly exciting year for OU’s esports community — from their rapid growth in student participation and development of top competitive talent, to the creation of their new home in Cross Village. We’re extremely proud of what they’ve accomplished. Being recognized as the Esports Collegiate Program of the Year is a well-deserved honor and a fitting end to a great year,” said Corey Phelps, Dean of the Price College of Business. “We look forward to continuing to develop our sports business program to meet the needs of this growing industry while strengthening our close partnership with OU ECCI.”
“For the past three semesters, OU ECCI has worked with our college to supply curriculum and teach a course titled ‘Esports Live Production’ to our Creative Media Production majors,” said David Craig, Interim Dean for Gaylord College. “Many of our students have been positively impacted by OU ECCI. We greatly value this partnership and cannot wait to see how OU ECCI will continue to grow and flourish.”
There are now over 300 peer universities that have esports programs in North America with many developing areas of study in the topic. Additionally, there are 250+ high schools and middle schools in Oklahoma alone that have esports programs.
This past summer, the OU Board of Regents approved the design project for a dedicated gaming and development facility for OU ECCI. As that project develops, OU ECCI debuted its temporary community gaming space and esports development facility inside Cross Village B on the corner of 4th Street and Jenkins Avenue for select events this semester. It is scheduled to soft launch in spring 2024.
Information for this release provided by the University of Oklahoma
ABOUT THE NECC
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.