Club budget of $60,000 causes controversy
Because of its Division II status, most sports at Rollins have been cancelled for the foreseeable future. This has left a void that is now being filled by an unexpected source: Esports gaming.
Founded in November 2019, the Rollins Rampage Esports club is the brainchild of Nathan Arrowsmith, the director of Recreational Sports, and Ben Katz (‘22), who is now the club’s president.
After getting into gaming over the summer of 2019, Katz discovered that there were many colleges in Florida that had competitive Esports teams. According to Katz, after deciding that Rollins should have an Esports team of its own, he approached Arrowsmith, who was already interested in starting one at Rollins.
Arrowsmith then presented the idea to the Athletics Department, which approved the venture due to, as Arrowsmith put it, “the competition and potential growth involved.”
The team immediately joined the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) and was given a budget of $60,000 to pay for equipment and furniture for the club’s room in the sports center, all of which was spent.
The new program was set to begin in June 2021, but the campus shutdown in March presented an opportunity for an early start.
While the team originally consisted of Katz and a few of his friends, membership has since ballooned to 82 members and counting. Competing in NACE, the Rampage managed to reach the top 16 out of 138 schools.
The Rampage’s sudden rise and success have drawn plenty of scrutiny. In particular, the expensive gaming PCs that were provided for every member of the team have raised some eyebrows, coming at a time when many programs have had their budgets cut and workers have been laid off. Many have questioned why Rollins is spending so much money on an extracurricular activity.
The club’s $60,000 budget was allocated before COVID-19 in November 2019, a fact confirmed by both Arrowsmith and Katz. All subsequent expenditures, such as creating team jerseys, were paid for out-of-pocket by the club members themselves. While many programs have been negatively impacted by a pandemic-induced financial squeeze, the Esports team was not affected.