AUGUSTA, GA – The Peach Belt Conference and commissioner David Brunk are pleased to announce that the league will welcome in three schools as associate members for Esports in the 2019-20 season. Coker University (S.C.), Alma College (Mich.) and Hawai'i Pacific University will join the league to play League of Legends and any other added PBC titles.
"This would not be possible with any other championship," said commissioner Brunk from the league office in Augusta. "The ability to have membership across thousands of miles and across NCAA Divisions is unique to Esports. I am so impressed with the visionary leadership at these schools to understand the value Esports brings to their campus communities and how being a part of the Peach Belt Conference will enhance that value."
All three schools joined the league for a minimum of two years and will fully participate in the spring 2020 League of Legends season. Games are played remotely during the regular season and all three schools have agreed to travel to the in-person championship next spring should they be among the top eight teams in the standings.
Alma College, an NCAA Division III school located in Alma, Mich., plays their traditional sports in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA). Alma became the first DIII school in the state of Michigan to begin a program and is currently building a dedicated space for the team to compete.
"We are very excited to be among the growing number of schools to add Esports to its athletic programs and are equally as excited to be a member of the Peach Belt Conference," said Alma College interim athletic director Sarah Dehring. "After hearing about the positive experience that MIAA Commissioner Penny Allen-Cook had at the Peach Belt Conference Championships this spring, we recognized that the conference provides its athletes with a championship experience and we are proud to be a part of that."
Coker founded their Esports team in the fall of 2018. Located in Hartsville, S.C., Coker competes in the South Atlantic Conference in their traditional sports and has competed in League of Legends, Overwatch and Hearthstone. The Cobras were 13-9 in League of Legends competition last season under head coach Joseph Rudy.
"We are excited to become members of the Peach Belt Conference in Esports," said Dr. Lynn Griffin, Vice President of Athletics and Athletic Facilities at Coker. "The Peach Belt has been a leader in recognizing and promoting Esports as a part of the athletics community and we look forward to this new opportunity."
Hawai'i Pacific began their competitive Esports League of Legends team in January of 2018. Located in Honolulu, Hawai'i, HPU built the first Esports arena in the state with their 3,000-square-foot Esports Arena. A member of the DII Pac West Conference for other sports, HPU has competed in the League of Legends College Championship Series for the past two seasons. The PBC also competes in the LoL Championship with the tournament winner and runner-up receiving automatic bids to the national playoffs.
"I am very thankful to Commissioner Dave Brunk for reaching out to Hawai'i Pacific University and offering our island University membership to the Peach Belt Conference," said HPU athletic director Sam Moku. "Being a member of the PBC will raise the bar for our esports program and will provide great exposure for our local high schools students who are interested in esports. The Sharks are excited and will be ready to compete this season."
The 2020 PBC League of Legends season will begin in early February of next year, the full schedule will be released in the early fall. This will be the third year of the PBC League of Legends Championship.