NOVA is establishing a competitive Esports program affiliated with the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE). NOVA joins over 80 colleges and universities in the US and is the first public institution in Virginia to recognize esports at the varsity level.
“NOVA wants to be a leader in technology-focused programs,” said NOVA President Scott Ralls. “Having a platform where our students can showcase their talents and compete with other college students regionally and nationally is a win-win for everyone.”
Formed in 2016, NACE is a nonprofit membership association organized by and on behalf of member institutions as the only association of varsity esports programs at colleges and universities across the US. As of January 2018, over 90 percent of all varsity esports programs in the nation are members of NACE, with an ever-increasing number of schools exploring the emerging opportunity.
“Our students are already competing in esports and we know there is a vibrant gaming community on campus,” said Director of College-Wide Student Life Brian Anweiler. “Thanks to NACE our students can now compete in a more formal environment and represent the NOVA Nighthawks in this exciting new venture.”
In March, the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) recognized NACE as the governing body of collegiate esports and marks the second endorsement by a traditional governing body of collegiate athletics. The first was from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The NJCAA is the second largest intercollegiate association in the nation with over 500 member institutions and the NAIA is the governing body of small athletics programs with 250 college and university members. NOVA is a member of the NJCAA.
Esports will become the ninth competitive Nighthawk team joining Ice Hockey as the other non-NJCAA affiliated program. While NOVA hasn’t declared which specific games students will compete in for the 2018-19 academic year, potential options include games such as Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm and League of Legends – the most popular PC game in the world. All are online multi-player games and student-athletes will compete as a team to defeat an opposing institution – both two and four-year institutions.
NOVA is creating an esports arena at the Annandale Campus where students can practice and compete. We are currently searching for a coach to lead the program. Students in the Esports program must meet eligibility requirements including full-time enrollment, maintain a minimum GPA and meet certain progress toward degree requirements.