Marquette University touted its Division I esports team as the first in the nation, but after failing to find a corporate sponsor the team will remain a club organization for at least another semester.
The Marquette esports team had already been delayed from a fall 2019 debut, with an expected launch as a varsity program this spring.
When university president Michael Lovell announced the program back in January of 2019, he said he thought it would “fairly” easy to land a sponsor, but that hasn’t been the case.
The group will still compete as a club this season, and Patrick Glogovsky said he’s confident that varsity launch is in the offing.
“It’s kind of ‘same old’ for us because we just do what we do as a club team. We’ve been doing this for three years now, and we know what we have to do as a club,” Glogovsky told MarquetteWire. “The fact that it’s not a varsity sport yet is disappointing, but I’m not, like, in anguish over it. I know the players are more disappointed than I am because I just focus on the club.”
Marquette athletic director Scott Kuykendall said the school will continue looking for a sponsor for the team.
“We have been reaching out to companies regarding potential sponsorships for several months and that continues,” Kuykendall said in an email. “While we have had interest, we have yet to secure a sponsorship significant enough for us to move forward with the construction of the facility necessary to house a varsity Esports program. It’s our hope to have identified a partner by the start of the 2020-21 academic year. That is our goal right now.”
Glogovsky said he’s baffled by the lack of sponsorship for the team.
“It’s very odd to me that we’re struggling to find a sponsor so much. For Marquette University, I don’t think it should be as hard as it’s been, so that’s disappointing to me,” Glogovsky said. “We started gaming and esports at Marquette, so I would like to see it explode and take off.”
Marquette will begin construction of a standalone facility once a sponsor has been found.
“A program becomes ‘varsity’ when an institution begins recruiting players to campus to participate on the team,” Kuykendall said. “Once a funding source is identified to supplement the construction of the playing facility, we will move forward with the hiring of a coach and identifying team members, who could already be on campus or interested in attending Marquette in the future. ”
Regardless, the team still competes for and represents Marquette.
“We have partnered with the club team for the past two years to represent Marquette in events sponsored by the BIG EAST Conference,” Kuykendall said. “Those events have occurred online and included League of Legends and Rocket League and this December we sent a team to NYC to participate in a Rocket League tournament. While we don’t have a varsity team, Marquette has still been represented.”