Two more seasons of the Big Ten Network League of Legends league will be hosted in 2018 and 2019, as Riot and the Big Ten Network have completed a new two-year deal. In 2017, certain schools were excluded, such as Penn State and Nebraska, but the two schools will feature in the league, which now includes all 14 Big Ten schools. Other schools that will make their return to the league are Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Maryland, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Rutgers, and Purdue.
Riot will grant a monetary scholarship of $490,000 to the 14 schools. Each school in the league will receive $35,000 by Riot. The money will be evenly portioned amongst rosters and staff. Six players will each receive $5000, and two student coaches or analysts will be eligible to receive $2500 each. The season will commence at the end of January. The playoffs for the top 8 teams will run from March 30 to April 2. Big Ten Network is assessing the most propitious live streaming platform to broadcast the matches.
Riot Games associate esports manager Michael Sherman told ESPN,
“Doing the initial Big Ten Network was a stepping stone to building that understanding. We want to work with traditional infrastructure, we want to build League of Legends as an institution in college. This new two-year deal is the next step in doing that. Not only do we now have all 14 schools, but we also have the two-year commitment. Even going into this year, students were asking if it was going to happen or not, and our goal is to get past that. We want to be at a point where the season starts in January.”
Conferences such as the Pac-12, have considered running an esports league, but at present, there has been no commitment. With the addition of Penn State and Nebraska, the League of Legends collegiate circuit now consists of over 300 universities. Schools such as Boise State, Georgia State, Utah, UC Irvine and Western Kentucky are considering implementing esports as a university sport.