Upper Iowa University is launching a varsity esports program with the first Peacock teams to compete during the 2018-19 academic year. Esports will be the University’s 19th sports program in the Peacock Athletics Department.
“One of our University’s strategic priorities is to foster a student-centered learning environment,” said UIU President William R. Duffy II. “Student engagement outside of the classroom is an important part of the student experience and offering esports creates another opportunity for our students.”
Esports features online, organized video game competition between institutions. Despite video game and esports mainstream popularity, institutions have just recently jumped on board with the thought of esports as a viable intercollegiate program.
The Upper Iowa esports team will be made up of women and men and will feature teams to compete against other institutions in League of Legends and Overwatch. The Peacocks will seek to participate in both the Collegiate Star League and the College League of Legends Tournament.
“We are excited to continue bringing new opportunities for students to get the most out of their experience at Upper Iowa University,” UIU Director of Athletics Rick Hartzell said. “We recognize how popular competitive gaming is right now and the value that it can bring to our campus in Fayette. We are proud to provide another platform to reach out to a new audience of high school and transfer students looking for an outlet for their talent.”
Jim Lowery, athletics video producer and sales assistant, will coach the team in its early stages and will put together the first recruiting class for the Peacock esports team this spring. Upper Iowa will offer scholarships to incoming esport student-athletes.
Esports is the eighth program added to the Peacock Athletics Department roster since the university’s move up to NCAA Division II prior to the 2005-06 academic year. Upper Iowa reinstated the first five programs, which include women’s lacrosse, women’s indoor and outdoor track and field, women’s cross country and women’s tennis, between 2007 and 2017. Both women’s and men’s bowling were added in January 2018 with competition slated to begin in 2018-19.