With a footprint spanning from Texas to Alabama, the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) is one of the nation’s most storied HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) conferences, according to a statement. It’s newly-launched esports and gaming platform is bringing it to the digital age with help from the XR Sports Group.
The Frisco-based organization helps legacy sports properties through digital transformations—especially within the gaming and esports space.
SWAC, which has been around since 1920, launched its conference-wide gaming and esports platform in September 2020. Through the platform, SWAC hopes to educate and engage students through a medium that’s especially familiar to them.
“Gaming & Esports will continue to be an increasing part of our students’ lives, whether as the new medium of connection or a source of STEM related career paths,” Dr. Charles McClelland, SWAC Commissioner, said in a statement.
With the ongoing pandemic forcing many offices and schools to go virtual, the need for traditional entertainment to focus on digital transformation has been accelerated, according to XR Sports Group.
SWAC’s gaming and esports platform aligns with this transformation by creating a community in which the conference’s 10 schools can host student intramural gaming competitions and potentially varsity-level esports events, according to a statement.
The initiative is set to have incremental value for SWAC, with the potential to attract an expanded pool of future students and create digitally-focused revenue streams.
Additionally, SWAC is launching an esports curriculum in all of its member schools, complete with a comprehensive look at the industry and the potential careers it offers.
“The next generation of SWAC students will have the ability to explore a host of new career opportunities and enhance their collegiate experiences by engaging with the SWAC’s gaming focused digital entertainment community,” Kedreon Cole, CEO of XR Sports Group, said in a statement.
Since October 2020, students from SWAC member schools have been competing through the new platform.
Esports in North Texas
The launch of SWAC’s esports initiative comes at a time when Dallas-Fort Worth is building its own esports presence in the professional and public school spaces.
Two of DFW’s major professional esports organizations are owned by traditional sports organization owners Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban. Companies like Pizza Hut, GameStop, MillerCoors and the U.S. Army have also formed partnerships within the industry.
In the public school realm, Generation Esports (GenE), which the Fort-Worth Star Telegram calls the largest and longest-running competitive gaming organization for high school students in the nation, announced a partnership with the University Interscholastic League (UIL) in July 2020 as its exclusive sponsor.
The UIL has even considered making competitive gaming a UIL-sanctioned activity, but for now, GenE plans to launch its High School Esports League and Middle School Esports League to more than 3,000 Texas schools.
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