The University of Utah, more known for their prowess in collegiate sports, has announced that they will begin offering sponsorships to students for video games.
Announced overnight, the move makes the first of America's "Power Five" schools - schools in the five richest athletic conferences of collegiate football in the United States - to offer scholarships specifically for esports. The scholarships will be funded by through the school's entertainment, arts and engineering department, and will be partial scholarships at first.
According to a report from Bloomberg, the first partial scholarships will be extended to the university's representative League of Legends team. That will be expanded more broadly as the year progresses to other games and teams, and the head of the new esports program A.J. Dimick encouraging other schools to follow their lead.
Utah's announcement follows move by other educational institutions to find room within their program for esports. Australian universities haven't begun offering scholarships for games just yet, but they have embraced the competitive aspect. Esports made its debut at the Australian University Games last year, with League being officially sanctioned by Australian University Sport, the federally-backed governing body for university sports in Australia. Another university-focused league run by ESL is kicking off later this month, featuring Hearthstone, Overwatch and League of Legends.