Ashland University is once again making waves. Home to one of the most recent varsity esports programs, Ashland also became the first university to offer a scholarship for Fortnite players. We reached out to Joshua Buchanan, Ashland University's esports director (whom we featured back in March) to shed some light into the school's latest move.
"We decided to offer scholarships for Fortnite when we noticed how big it was and how much it was growing," stated Buchanan. "We want our program to capture a pretty wide audience. For the 2018-2019 [school] year we're offering scholarships for Fortnite, League of Legends, Overwatch, Hearthstone, CounterStrike: Global Offensive, Rocket League, and StarCraft."
"We want to be able to have people part of the program who are hardcore gamers, who are hoping to go semi-pro while they are getting their degree or potentially, if they're willing to work hard enough, try to go professional," he continued. "We're also looking to capture the more casual gamer who has a passion for something else in the industry, such as journalism, video production, or event hosting and organization. Our goal for the program is to provide a medium for anyone interested in esports, any aspect of the esports industry, to come and get a taste of that while they're pursuing their education."
To Buchanan, this expansion into Fortnite is more than just another addition to the varsity roster. "I think the amount of attention this has gotten has brought esports another step further," he explained. "I think we have some responsibility, here at Ashland, to make sure we use this time to really educate people on what kind of industry esports is, what it can become, how to safely enter the industry, while making sure you have your backup plan. We want to make sure that we develop esports as an industry, but also allow students to figure out if it's for them and be able to pursue their other passions in life too."
Buchanan noted that Epic Games has not officially entered the collegiate esports spehere as of yet. "We want to show Epic [Games] that this is something we believe in and that we want and that we're willing to help support them and work hard to create a collegiate scene for Fortnite."
For more details on Ashland University's varsity esports program, please view their esports web portal.
Joshua can be found on Twitter.
David Wise is an associate editor with the Collegiate StarLeague. His work has been published by Blizzard Entertainment, LiquidHearth, and ROOT Gaming. He can be found on Twitter.