DSU introducing esports as newest varsity sport

DICKINSON, N.D. - Dickinson State University is getting into the competitive gaming world. The school is creating its first esports teams.

This fall, the student center on the Dickinson State campus will become the headquarters for students to come and compete in esports at a varsity, club and casual level. One room in the lower level is outfitted with seven computers set up for student athletes to come in and participate in a range of games: Apex Legends, Fortnite, League of Legends and more.

"It could be as big as any of our other varsity sports," Esports Coordinator Josh Nichols said.

Nichols is working on recruiting students for the varsity team. There will be four to six teams, with each team being assigned to a certain game. Those students will have academic, health and community engagement requirements. Nichols says there will also be a club team.

"We're really wanting this to be an all inclusive and not only do we have the varsity sport but we also have the more casual gaming club and then the facility that's for anyone to use," Nichols said.

Esports are regulated by the National Association of Collegiate Esports, and Nichols says there about 100 teams registered with NACE. He is hoping the program will be a new recruiting tool for DSU.

"If we can have one more thing that's attractive to students to bring them here, to keep them here, it's good for recruitment it's good for retention it's good for a happy student body and that's what it really boils down to," Nichols said.

Nichols says one thing that's different about esports is players are eligible to win money, which comes to them in the form of scholarships.