PNW introduces its first co-ed varsity team

PNW will be the first public university in Indiana to add Esports to the varsity athletic program.

Esports, a competitive, organized, and multiplayer online video game competition, is one of  the fastest growing collegiate sports. The new Esport team will be the school’s first co-ed athletic team.

“I am excited to launch Esports at PNW,” said Director of Athletics Rick Costello. “The growth of Esports is amazing and this sport provides competitive, social engagement, and educational opportunities for our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the Northwest Indiana community.”

University administrators said the new Esports program will offer students new career opportunities. 

“Esports is a billion-dollar business and can enhance many career opportunities for our students – including management, marketing, game design and production, broadcasting and event management, and health care,” said PNW Chancellor Thomas L. Keon. “Like other competitive sports and co-curricular activities, Esports offers one more way PNW promotes the education and development of students.” 

The PNW Pride Esports team will be co-ed and begin competition in the fall 2020. Possible games for competition include Fortnite, Hearthstone, League of Legends, Overwatch, Rocket League, and many more.

Esports arenas will be developed in the student union buildings on both Hammond and Westville campuses. The arenas will feature 30 gaming stations using state-of-the-art equipment. The Esports space also will be open to all students during designated hours for intramural programs and individual student use.

Purdue Northwest will join fellow GLIAC members Ashland University, Davenport University and Michigan Technological University, all of which have established Esports programs. 

”More than 170 colleges nationwide have introduced Esports programs. Like other athletics programs, Esports fosters development of teamwork and critical and analytical thinking,” said Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Niaz Latif. “PNW is connecting academics and wathletics in yet another way.” 

Other schools also have teams. The National Association of Collegiate Esports reports that Boise State University, Georgia State University, Miami University of Ohio, the University of Utah, and Western Kentucky University all have varsity Esports programs. 

Newzoo, a gaming industry firm, estimates that Esports has more than 54 million fans in North America, 75% of them between the ages of 18 and 34. In 2019, Esports generated approximate revenue of $1.1 billion and reached a global audience of 454 million.