CIAA jumps into esports territory with new partnerships


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The CIAA has forged new partnerships to launch the league’s involvement in esports and gaming.

The CIAA is jumping into esports.

The nation’s oldest historically Black athletic conference partnered with Atlanta-based nonprofit Cxmmunity (pronounced Community) to create the league’s esports and gaming initiatives. Cxmmunity’s mission is to increase minority participation in esports and gaming. The partnership is designed to create a pathway for future partnerships with leaders in the industry. The goal is to provide not only educational opportunities for students, but career pathways as well.

The collaboration stems from a connection made by conference member Johnson C. Smith, which launched its esports and gaming management program earlier this year, becoming the first HBCU to do so. JCSU’s program became available to students this fall and the school has since announced several partnerships to enhance their offerings. JCSU announced partnerships with international video gaming equipment company Nacon Gaming and Riot Games, a Los Angeles-based esports organization, in September.

The program offers a four-course non-credit bearing certificate program, which provides professionals with insight into the esports and gaming industries as well as an esports lab and an esports club and the minor.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Cxmmunity to help provide access to resources within the esports and gaming industry,” CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams said in a statement. “Survey results from our campuses show a high level of interest in this sector at every level and our goal is to further establish pipelines throughout the STEM field that offer career opportunities, scholarships, and educational programming for our students and member institutions.”

Cxmmunity’s HBCU Esports League will provide competitive gaming opportunities for CIAA member institutions. Participants will have the opportunity to earn scholarships.

“We are extremely excited to partner with the CIAA to bring esports and educational opportunities to their member institutions,” Cxmmunity founder and Executive Director Ryan Johnson said. “Our goal is to foster a community that encourages competitive esports matches and assists the CIAA in developing an esports framework that exposes their students to scholarships, internships, and full-time jobs.”

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