Ball State University’s rapidly growing Esports program took another significant step forward on Monday with the signing of one of the top young Rocket League professionals in the country.

Arlin “Oath” Burns, a senior at Triton Central High School in Fairland, Ind., has signed a full-ride scholarship to compete for Ball State’s varsity Rocket League team beginning in the Fall of 2023.

Mr. Burns currently competes for the professional Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) team Akrew, which signed him in 2021 at the age of 16.

“Arlin brings a fantastic mix of academic excellence, elite esports skill, and a history of leadership. This blend will not only make him successful competing for Ball State Rocket League, but also in the classroom and after graduation,” said Dan Marino, director of Esports at Ball State and coach of the University’s varsity esports team. “Our excitement is compounded, as Arlin is also an Indiana native, and the opportunity to keep someone of his pedigree in state and in our program is a top priority of ours. We're incredibly excited to see what he brings starting in August.”

Mr. Burns began competing in Rocket League—a popular online game described as “the high-powered hybrid of arcade-style soccer and vehicular mayhem”—at the age of 14, where he quickly established himself as one of the best young talents in the game through his success in high-ranked weekly and monthly tournaments. The following year, he became eligible to compete in the RLCS, the highest level of Rocket League. Mr. Burns spent that year competing on various teams with the hopes of qualifying for a full RLCS season before earning a contract with Akrew in 2021.

Looking to compete in the Collegiate Rocket League, as well as to earn a high-quality education, Mr. Burns was one of the most coveted high school esports recruits in the U.S. over the past year. He received interest and offers from some of the country’s top programs, but ultimately decided to keep his talents within the state of Indiana at Ball State, where he plans to study either Psychology or Business.

“We are grateful to Arlin and his family for their faith in our University and our wonderful Esports program,” said Dr. Paaige Turner, dean of Ball State’s College of Communication, Information, and Media (CCIM), which houses the University’s Esports program. “At Ball State, we are committed to bolstering our students’ educational experiences while better serving the state. By securing this commitment from Arlin, we are keeping one of the state’s best young esports talents right here in Indiana, where he will have the opportunity to pursue a fulfilling career and a meaningful life. We are excited to welcome Arlin to our campus in the Fall.”

Ball State began its varsity esports program as part of CCIM in January 2021, becoming a founding member of the Esports Collegiate Conference. The conference fields teams in League of Legends, Rocket League, and Overwatch divisions. In April 2021, Ball State officially opened its state-of-the-art Esports Center within the Robert Bell Building on campus.

There are more than 800 students participating in Ball State’s student-run Esports Club. That includes more than 50 student-athletes on its varsity esports team, which is led by Mr. Marino.

Another major component of Ball State’s esports program is the Esports Production academic concentration, under CCIM’s Department of Media, which delivers hands-on instruction for students to develop their skills in the field of esports media. Students in the program learn the history of esports, video production, streaming, and live event broadcasting. The Esports Production concentration offers four years of courses, allowing first-year students to earn credit in Esports Production as soon as they begin their studies at Ball State.

Since its formation, Ball State’s Esports program has attracted major strategic partners—including Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL). Established in 2022, this partnership led to the creation of the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Scholarship, which provides a $5,000 scholarship to two members of Ball State’s varsity esports team each year from the 2022-23 through 2025-26 academic years, advancing the program’s mission of recruiting and retaining the top esports talent in the world.

Aside from the partnership with RLL, Ball State maintains a separate partnership with Gen.G Global Academy—a high-caliber international esports organization with competitive teams in South Korea, China, and the United States. This collaboration expands Ball State’s global influence and role as an innovator in the emerging industry of esports, while offering unique opportunities for student-athletes within Ball State’s Esports program, and for GenG’s student-athletes.

For more information about Ball State’s Esports program, contact Mr. Marino at or call 765-285-6025.