In May 2019, Riot Games announced the creation of the Riot Scholastic Association of America, a singular governing board to manage collegiate and high school esports.
The RSAA will represent hundreds of schools across the United States and is led by a board of six collegiate esports advisors, as well as Riot Games’ dedicated scholastic team.
The six members of the advisory board are Mark Deppe, director of esports at UC Irvine, A.J. Dimick, director of esports operations at the University of Utah, Erin Harvego, vice president of marketing at Big Ten Network, Carolayne Henry, senior associate commissioner for governance and legal affairs at Mountain West, Kurt Melcher, executive director of esports at Robert Morris University, and T.L. Taylor, director of research at Anykey and a professor at MIT.
While top tier collegiate play was already under the publisher’s purview, the addition of the RSAA is a large step forward in solidifying the image of college LoL. In an interview with ESPN Esports, Riot Games’ scholastic lead Matthew Birris said, “One of our main goals for the RSAA is to improve our ability to have two-way conversations with schools. It’s very important to present LoL as a sport to colleges.”
In 2019, 354 schools competed in collegiate LoL, but the majority of schools did not afford their teams varsity sport status. The structure given by the RSAA is sure to go a long way in promoting the longevity and seriousness of college LoL to universities that would otherwise ignore their players.
On May 23, the RSAA also convened for its inaugural meeting to lay out a foundation for the organization’s future.
The opening of the meeting saw presentations by two Riot Games staff members, Michael Sherman and J.T. Vandenbree, go over the current state of collegiate LoL, as well as reflections and changes to be made based on the 2019 competitive season.
The RSAA then engaged in an exercise titled “Purpose to Practice” to help narrow the organization’s focus and directives. According to the RSAA, the following are the major takeaways:
- Directive to meet quarterly instead of biannually for at least the first year
- Directive to elect a non-Riot Board of Advisors Chairperson
- Directive to define a Board of Advisors mission statement and near-term priorities by the end of 2019
- Directive to establish communication channels for Advisors and RSAA Staff
- Need to establish subcommittees focused on priority topics
- Explore potential board expansion
Head of College Michael Sherman wrapped the RSAA meeting update with the following statement: “The meeting was originally scheduled for three hours, but when all was said and done, we had met for more than six hours. There was a high degree of confidence we had the right people in the room, and that we were all here to work. I believe the results of this meeting will pay dividends for years to come.”