Aquinas College is launching an esports program in fall 2019, providing students a new opportunity to participate in competitive video gaming. AQ will become the fifth institution in Michigan to offer esports at the college level.
"We feel that this is a terrific opportunity for Aquinas College to be on the forefront of the rise of collegiate esports," said Aquinas Director of Athletics Nick Davidson. "Through comprehensive research, the college felt this was the right time to provide those interested with not only a great academic experience, but the ability to compete in collegiate esports at the next level. We are very excited to begin this endeavor and look forward to what the future holds for esports at Aquinas."
Esports at Aquinas
Aquinas will apply for membership in NACE, the National Association of Collegiate Esports, which is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri. Currently NACE has more than 125 member schools and more than 2,800 student-athletes.
Ninety-four percent of all varsity esports programs in the United States are members of NACE. Aquinas will join Siena Heights, Davenport, Northwood and Alma as Michigan institutions officially recognized by the association.
Esports is one of the newest – and fastest-growing – athletic programs in the country. When NACE was formed in July 2016, only seven colleges and universities had varsity esports programs. Currently, there are more than 125 institutions that sponsor esports.
Esports games rely on real-time strategy, teamwork, mental agility and multiplayer online battles. Interest in the sport is on an upward trend. In 2017, the League of Legends World Finals drew 57.6 million online viewers compared to an average of 19.4 million viewers during the NBA finals. Overall, there are 286 million projected esport viewers by 2020.
A new gaming lab on campus will house a practice and competition area. It will be outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment from iBUYPOWER and furnishings from DXRacer, a Michigan-based company.
Intercollegiate competition will begin in fall 2019 for three games: League of Legends, Overwatch and Rocket League.
In addition to the new esports program, Aquinas is adding new faculty and programs that will continue to offer students expertise that will prepare them for the future job market. Aquinas is hiring in the Computer Information Systems academic department and has launched a Business Administration/Computer Information System dual major, Business Administration/Economics dual major, and a new Preparing Racially-diverse Educators program.
Aquinas launched its Four-Year Guarantee in the fall, promising that students will graduate in four years or the College will waive any additional tuition expense for up to one additional year for outstanding coursework required to graduate.
Adam Antor named a Head Coach
Aquinas College hired Adam Antor as the school's first-ever esports head coach. The school declared on Feb. 21 that it will begin esports – or competitive video gaming – in the fall of 2019 and Antor will oversee the inaugural program at Aquinas.
Antor comes to AQ from his most recent position at West Catholic High School, where he served as Director of Marketing and Communications. He is not a new face to the esports industry, nor the education field. While at West Catholic, he launched a top-tier high school esports program, where his Rocket League team finished sixth in the nation among all high school teams.
In addition to Rocket League, West Catholic fields a competitive esports team in League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Fortnite. Aquinas is expected to compete in League of Legends, Overwatch, and Rocket League after the school is accepted into NACE, the National Association of Collegiate Esports.
"We're very excited to welcome Adam as our first-ever esports head coach," mentioned AQ Director of Athletics Nick Davidson. "Adam has created a great local connection here in West Michigan and has a really good vision for what we'd like our esports program to become in the coming years. He will be a welcomed addition to the Aquinas College staff."
Along with his prior experiences at West Catholic, Antor spends significant time travelling the country to national esports events as a professional esports photographer. He most recently photographed the Call of Duty World Championships, Frostbite 2019 (a professional Super Smash Bros. Ultimate event), and the Detroit Red Wings 2019 Esports Face-Off event at Little Caesars Arena.
"I am thrilled to have the opportunity to coach at Aquinas in this new role, leading this new program," Antor explained. "It's exciting to be at the forefront of collegiate esports, a fast-growing competitive space for student-athletes. I would like to thank Director of Athletics Nick Davidson for giving me this opportunity and I look forward to making Aquinas College a destination for top esports competitors. Go Saints!"
For more information on the program, check Aquinas College on CampusTeam: https://campusteam.tv/universities/aquinas-college