Building an esports program does not just fall on coaches. Success depends on participation from multiple campus departments, including athletics, information technology, facilities, student affairs, enrollment and advancement, according to Jason Bauer, assistant executive director of Esports for Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa.
Engaging those stakeholders is the focus of his UB Tech® 2020 session, “Esports Campus Stakeholders and Their Roles,” on June 15. This session is presented by the National Association of Esports Coaches and Directors (NAECAD), a UB Tech program partner.
Bauer will speak along with Jay Prescott, executive director of Esports for Grand View University, to highlight how multi-department involvement contributes to the success of a campus Esports program. The co-presenters also serve as co-organizers of NAECAD.
In addition to coaching players, schools must work with multiple departments to allocate physical space on campus; provide infrastructure, including the right number of computers, to support the team; coordinate professional development for coaches; and engage in advocacy to promote competitive esports on campus.
Like other collegiate sports, the coronavirus pandemic has put the Esports season on hold for players at Grand View University. Yet even when the leagues are not in session, Bauer suggests appealing to the needs of stakeholders in each department.
Staff in admissions will want to know the percentage of high school students who are active gamers while student life staff might be more interested in learning that most players are not involved in other school activities. This information, Bauer says, will help capture their attention and get essential buy-in for developing an Esports program.
In addition to sharing what Grand View University learned when their esports team launched in 2017, Bauer also hopes to dispel the misconception that there is a single, correct approach to developing a new program. Instead, he says, schools should get feedback from multiple campus departments and forge a plan that works for the campus ecosystem. The overall goal, he believes, is balancing team success with student success.
“When you’re starting something new, it’s important to know how to make it successful from the beginning,” Bauer says. “You have to put everyone in the right position to make it work.”
Explore other sessions in the UB Tech esports track.
Learn more about the Academic Esports Conference & Expo, to take place in October in Chicago.