Top college esports associations agree to partnership

NAECAD and the United Collegiate Esports Association are teaming up on professional development and certification for program coaches and directors.
By: | July 16, 2020

Two of the fastest-rising organizations in college esports have made another big splash. This time, they’ve done it together.

The National Association of Esports Coaches and Directors (NAECAD) is combining forces with the new Unified Collegiate Esports Association to provide leadership, advocacy and professional development for UECA coaches and directors.

The partnership will give the newly reorganized UCEA a connection to NAECAD’s many services for college-level leaders, including certification and professional development programs.

“UCEA’s partnership with NAECAD allows us to continue to raise and advance the development of the greater collegiate esports community, current and future leadership and valuable resources within North America,” said Victoria Horsley, the president of UCEA and also the chief revenue officer of the overarching Unified Esports Association. “It also functions as a think tank that will be driven by thought leadership, best practices and subject matter experts.”

For Unified it is one more piece of a dynamic overhaul that has been taking shape since the company rebranded from Midwest Esports. While still utilizing the old name for its conference, it has added several major components as it looks to serve all levels of gamers from collegiate to community to amateur and semi-pro. In addition, it is hosting esports events, festivals and mobile gaming experiences.

One of the key elements of its collegiate association, the UCEA, is that it is free for members to join. Those who do would only pay for tournaments they join. Some 17 institutions have signed on since May, including powerhouse programs St. Clair College, Ottawa University in Kansas and the University of Missouri. Among those on its long list of advisors are two stalwarts in the collegiate esports space – Chris Haskell, coach at Boise State University, and Kurt Melcher of Intersport, who founded the elite Robert Morris program.

Meanwhile, NAECAD too has been making massive strides. It launched the first national coaches certification program last month and also announced a strategic deal with the NJCAAE (National Junior College Athletic Association Esports). It hosts its own national conference and is key program partner on both the UB Tech Conference and Academic Esports Conference & Expo. It now has another rising partner in Unified.

“I am beyond welcoming of this partnership with UCEA as it demonstrates a high level of commitment from both entities to enhance competitive esports at the collegiate level,” says Dr. Jay Prescott, Executive Director of NAECAD. “This teamwork will provide collaborative support and structure that will enhance program success and the student experience. I look forward to seeing esports leaders and their programs throughout North America reap the benefits.”

NASEF, Twitch team up: The North America Scholastic Esports Federation (NASEF) and Twitch announced a partnership that they say will “leverage gaming and esports for good,” teaching students the power of teamwork, collaboration, digital citizenship and entrepreneurship as well as learning job skills in this growing field.

“Twitch is honored to work with NASEF for a better future for students,” says Mark “Garvey” Candella, director of student and education programs at Twitch. “Teaching emerging, new and digital media skills while the students learn the soft skills required to work together is something one can be proud of.”

Twitch says it will work with NASEF on developing several initiatives, including creating gaming and esports curriculum to be paired with NASEF’s Beyond the Game challenges. One of those will be a series of lessons on “how to be a good streamer” by helping students:

  • Develop presentation and broadcast skills
  • Learn about different technologies
  • Build an entrepreneurial mindset in order to gain sponsors and a following to be profitable.

“As the premier streaming service, Twitch’s influence reaches all corners of the gaming and esports world,” says Gerald Solomon, founder of NASEF and the executive director of the Samueli Foundation. “Their knowledge of the entertainment side of esports, coupled with their role as a major employer in the industry, positions Twitch to influence the education and future of the upcoming generation. We’re excited to work with them on educational programs and materials.”

NACE convention goes online: The National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) announced it will host its National Convention virtually from July 22-24. More than a dozen presenters are lined up to speak at the event, which will be done on the Run The World Today platform. They include NACE president Michael Brooks, Ralph Newell of Diverse: Issues In Higher Education; Joey Gawrysiak at Shenandoah University, Travis Yang of Texas A&M San Antonio, and Bennett Newsome of Full Sail University. Sessions will focus on recruiting, building arenas and academic opportunities. NACE is also provide networking through virtual cocktail hours over the three days. Tickets are $20, which includes all events.


Chris Burt covers esports and education for University Business and District Administration and is also the Program Chair for the Academic Esports Conference & Expo.