Henderson joins Esports conference

The Peach Belt Conference and commissioner David Brunk announced today that Henderson State University and Florida Southern College will join the league as associate members for Esports, beginning immediately. The two schools will compete in the 2020 Peach Belt League of Legends regular season, which begins Feb. 1.

“We are very excited to welcome Florida Southern and Henderson State to the Peach Belt,” said commissioner Brunk. “These are two institutions who understand that Esports is a growing and vibrant movement in the college community. They have the vision of what Esports can bring to their campus in terms of recruitment and retention and know the value of joining a conference that has been a leader in this space.”

Henderson State University was the first in the state of Arkansas to offer Esports scholarships. Located in Arkadelphia, HSU launched its program in the fall of 2018 and currently competes in six titles. The teams also compete in a dedicated space and have hosted their own intercollegiate events.

"We're excited to be part of the Peach Belt Conference and compete against schools from across the nation in its esports division,” said John Price, Esports director and assistant professor or communication and theater arts. “The Peach Belt Conference offers Henderson students a unique opportunity to be part of a championship experience. The Reddies are prepared for the upcoming season and look forward to competition."

Located in Lakeland, Florida Southern College established its Esports program in 2018 with League of Legends and Hearthstone and have since added Rocket League and Overwatch at the varsity level. The team competes in its on-campus Esports Arena and is coordinated through the athletic department.

“We are excited to join the Peach Belt Conference,” said Drew Howard, FSC Director of Athletics & Dean of Wellness. “This is the logical next stop in the progression of our esports program. We look forward to competing against the best League of Legends teams in the country.”

The Peach Belt Conference was the first NCAA conference at any level to establish an Esports championship that is treated the same as traditional sports offerings. The PBC was also the first to partner with Riot Games, publishers of League of Legends, the most popular Esports title in the world.

The Peach Belt held its first live in-person championship event in 2018 and is entering the third season of competition in 2020. The 2020 Peach Belt Conference tournament will be held March 27-28 at Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina.