Ashland University Introduces Esports As 23rd Varsity Program

Ashland University officials have announced that the institution is creating an esports program on campus and will begin intercollegiate competition in the sport starting next fall. AU will offer talent scholarships of up to $4,000 per year for those interested in competing in esports, which is a form of competition performed through electronic consoles and video games.

“This esports program is for anyone with a passion for video games and a desire to pursue this at a higher level while receiving a quality private education,” said Al King, director of athletics at AU. “Adding esports puts us in a select group of schools. I've heard this described as, ‘blazing a new trail,’ and that's accurate. We're offering something unique that interests a growing population. It's a constant learning experience for all of us involved. There's a level of excitement associated with that."

King said the University has hired Joshua Buchanan as the coach for the esports program. Buchanan comes to Ashland from Bloomsburg (Pa.) University, where he recently graduated with an undergraduate degree in economics and philosophy. He currently serves as a player-manager for Sloth E-Sports Club LLC, a top 3 North American Starcraft 2 team. Buchanan manages various aspect of the team, including mentoring players, scheduling of events, arranging transportation and lodging and assisting with player benefit administration, including travel and tournament entry fee compensation. He is also charged with player scouting and recruitment and regularly consults with team leadership in planning short-term and long-term organizational objectives.

As a player, Buchanan currently ranks 40th in the United States in Starcraft 2 and has over five years of competitive experience. He also serves as a Starcraft 2 commentator for competitive events like Cheesadelphia and Stream.Me Arena and works as a Starcraft 2 freelance coach. Buchanan also has experience in other game titles, such as Super Smash Bros. Melee, League of Legends, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone.

The University is making plans now to create an esports arena on the first floor of the AU Library, a location that will house an area for practice and competition.

According to King, AU will feature varsity and junior varsity teams and will begin intercollegiate play in the games of League of Legends and Overwatch. The University will also explore the possibility of playing other titles based on the demand of prospective student-athletes.

To apply for a scholarship, prospective and current AU students should submit a form that can be found on the esports page at www.GoAshlandEagles.com. Those that apply will be asked to schedule an interview with Coach Buchanan through Skype, Discord or in person. For more information, send an email to Buchanan at: au-esports@ashland.edu.

Ashland University, ranked in the top tier of colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2017, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) deeply values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.  
                                                                      

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