Ball State University claimed Program of the Year honors at the inaugural EsportsU Collegiate Awards, a new national recognition program held May 6-7 at Esports Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Ball State’s Esports program was selected the best among more than 3,000 academic institutions in the nation represented by EsportsU, a business vertical of Collegiate Sports Management Group (CSMG), an integrated sports and entertainment media company.

“We are thrilled to receive the Esports Program of the Year Award. This recognition is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our players, coaches, and staff, and it's an honor to be recognized as one of the top programs in the industry,” said Dan Marino, esports director at Ball State and head coach of the University’s esports varsity team. “We're proud of the work we've done this year to earn this award and look forward to continuing to build a program that fosters excellence, sportsmanship, and teamwork.”

Ball State began its varsity esports program as part of its College of Communication, Information, and Media 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. The varsity team is one of the top-ranked programs in the nation in several notable games, including: Overwatch (2023 ESC champions; ranked No. 18 nationally); League of Legends (2022 ECAC champions; 2023 ESC runner up; ranked No. 11 nationally); and Rocket League (ranked No. 13 nationally).

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.

Ball State’s Esports program is also committed to serving its local communities and its state. Ball State has partnered with local high school programs, such as at Daleville Community Schools, to form meaningful educational and extracurricular experiences for local students; has served as the official partner of The Esports Combine™, the world’s premier collegiate recruiting event for esports athletes; and the University recently hosted the 2023 Indiana High School State Championship for Esports.

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.

“We are extremely proud and grateful to have been named the Esports Program of the Year,” said Dr. Paaige Turner, CCIM dean. “At Ball State, we have been intentional in our holistic and student-centered approach to esports, which is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. I would like to congratulate our esports student-athletes, as well as Dan Marino and his staff, whose hard work and passion is clearly making a meaningful impact not only on our campus, but around the country.”

For more information about Ball State Esports, visit the program’s website, email, or call 765-285-6025.