Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 4-24-2023

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Integrated Marketing Communication

First Advisor

Debora Wenger

Second Advisor

Ike Brunner

Third Advisor

William Berry

Relational Format



When traditional sports teams formed on college campuses, it took decades before they looked anything like college sports teams do today. College football is noted as beginning in 1869 (Parlier, 2022), NCAA formed in 1906, and the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision launched in 1978 (NCAA, 2023). In 2009, one of the first recorded college esports matches took place. In 2014, Robert Morris Universty started the first varsity-level college esports program. Now, there are an estimated 500 college esports programs amassing thousands of student participants. It took decades, if not a century, for college football to achieve these numbers. For an area that is seeing exponential growth, there is a lack of resources, structure, and research in college esports. College esports is expanding rapidly due to the digital age, and its stakeholders struggle to keep up. The research involves a review of existing literature and current regulations as well as conducting a series of one-on-one interviews with six college esports professionals. College esports lacks a governing entity (like the NCAA) causing a lack of agreed upon standards. The landscape is currently fragmented; there is little to no consensus to be seen on the basic regulations, structure, and terminology. Interview subjects noted frustrations with inconsistencies in competition regulation and nonstandardized models of operation for esports organizations. In order for college esports to achieve its full potential, stakeholders need to find a way to standardize operations and regulations surrounding competition, compensation, expectations, and eligibility.

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