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How is NACE distinguishing itself from NCAA policies?
With more than 120 members in attendance at its annual conference, the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) approved several new rules for the growing sport.
According to an ESPN report, together, with its member organizations, NACE confirmed its new board of directors and competition council, along with the decision to create an “intent to compete” (ITC) letter, which also laid the foundation for NACE's first eligibility enforcement committee.
The association says that while it seeks to build itself into a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)-like governing body, it wants to distinguish some of its policies from the NCAA. However, the newly approved ITC letter will work in similar fashion to the NCAA's national letter of intent (NLI), making it the most significant and hotly debated subject of the convention,” reports ESPN. In discussing the ITC, just about “every members-only session went over the allotted time with questions and clarifications on what could be the most important decision to come out of this conference.”
“Like the NLI, the ITC letter states a student's intention to play for a school and is a binding agreement between the school and competitor. In their current form, ITCs will require annual renewal, with a player having five calendar years of eligibility from the time they sign their first ITC. That clock will not stop for any reason as it is written.” NACE does not have eligibility exemption procedures in place.
At the NACE National Convention, held at Harrisburg University, members also made changes to the association bylaws “to allow schools to distribute prize money earned at third-party tournaments to their players,” reports ESPN, “regardless of what kind of scholarship dollars a school provides its competitors.” In addition, NACE “will not set any additional academic requirements of its own for the time being, instead deferring to what the institution requires of its traditional athletic programs as the standard for esports eligibility.”
Besides a large and growing membership base, NACE’s value has come from its “ability to guide schools through the creation and first year of varsity esports programs,” reports ESPN. With the new rules in place, “the association is trying to find ways to add value for its multiyear members, a task that will partially fall to the newly minted board of directors and competition council.”
NACE officially formed on July 28, 2016 at the first-ever Collegiate Esports Summit held in Kansas City, Missouri. At that time, only seven colleges and universities had varsity esports programs. Since then a rapidly growing number of institutions have launched varsity programming, with a current count of 130+ institutions. In January 2018, over 94% of all varsity esports programs in the U.S. were members of NACE, with an ever-increasing number of schools exploring esports.
Morrison, Sean. “NACE approves new rules governing college esports programs.” ESPN.com. ESPN Enterprises, Inc., 20 Jun. 2019. Web. 21 Aug. 2019.
National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE). The National Association of Collegiate Esports, 2019. Web. 21 Aug. 2019.