A US college has begun offering an athletic scholarship for League of Legends players.
Chicago college Robert Morris University (this one, not this one) has sponsored 60 athletic scholarships to League of Legends players, offering 50% off tuition, room and board to the succesful students.
According to Wall Street Journal (by way of The Australian's paywall-evading syndication deal), the school attracted over 2,200 applicants in 48 hours after Riot Games advertised the scheme.
Scholarship winners will have a crack at competing in the school's first eSports team. Potential students are required to pass trials, just as if they'd applied for any other sports scholarship. 150 applicants took part in a recent round of trials.
Associate athletic director Kurt Melcher came up with the idea for the eSports scholarship after watching the League of Legends championship in October last year. The college's authorities took just two weeks to sign off on the plan.
For a couple of years now, Robert Morris University has been working on a campaign of increasing athletic scholarships in order to boost enrolments through a period of economic downturn. It also offers bowling, cheerleading and dance scholarships, which considerably reduce costs of up to $440,000 per student. It's a good deal for the school, too, as eSports are much cheaper to provide for than swimming or gymnastics; one classroom can be fitted out for eSports, as opposed to shelling out for a pool or gym.
There's a lot of money in eSports, and more all the time. League of Legends was among the most lucrative games until Dota 2 took the crown with its crowdfunded prize pool of $10.9 million.