Averett University today announced it has received a $100,000 gift to support the expansion of its Esports program, in which a multiplayer video game is played competitively for spectators. Bestowed by Drs. Frank and Dugan Maddux, the gift will go toward an expanded, renovated facility space for the team and spectators, as well as funding some key staff positions for the program.
In the fall, the university announced its entrance into the quickly growing world of Esports as the only four-year university in the Commonwealth of Virginia to add a varsity competitive gaming program, and the program has already grown exponentially. Qualifying current students were given the opportunity to participate this school year, and have competed against Division I, II and III schools across the country.
The interest among current students has been so great that the program has already outgrown the space that was created for it. Now, the university is also seeing resounding interest in Esports from prospective students, and has already received 16 students who have deposited to enter the program next year.
“We could not be more excited around the momentum this innovative and creative program has
generated,” said Averett President Dr. Tiffany M. Franks. “The program is expanding and growing
because of our students and their overwhelming response to this, and with such generous donors as the Madduxes, we are incredibly fortunate to be able to meet their needs.”
Dr. Frank Maddux, a nephrologist, is the chief medical officer and executive vice president for clinical and scientific affairs at Fresenius Medical Care, and is a former Averett Board of Trustee member for 11 years and served as chair of the Board 2007-2009. Dr. Dugan Maddux is a nephrologist and vice president for chronic kidney disease initiatives at Fresenius Medical Care.
“We have loved watching Averett grow and expand over the years under the guidance of Dr. Tiffany Franks, and felt compelled to support this innovative, cutting-edge initiative that puts Averett at the forefront of this novel competitive landscape,” said the Madduxes. “By establishing programs like Esports, Averett is meeting students where they are by investing in their interests and contributing to their holistic development and healthy application of technology.”
Some of the gift is already at work, with the hiring of a part-time Esports recruiter who is dedicated to communicating with prospective students who express their interest in the program. Funds will also cover an Esports manager/coach position, for which a national search is underway.
Averett currently has 11 teams, and the number of players per team varies depending on the game. Teams are overseen by coaches and managers, and are comprised of males and females, student-athletes and those who do not compete on other athletic teams, and all class levels from freshmen to seniors. Full-time, traditional, undergraduate students are eligible to try out, and must maintain a certain GPA, attend practices and keep up with study hours in order to remain on the team.
Averett is a member of two conferences, including the only varsity competitive gaming league, the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE). NACE currently enlists about 45 colleges, many of which are located throughout the Midwest. The university also competes within the Collegiate Starleague, or CSL, a junior varsity conference where Averett competes with schools like Clemson University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Tech and West Virginia University.