Kurt Melcher was surfing the Internet one day when he decided to search for an old favorite: Starcraft. Melcher, 45, played the computer game during and shortly after college, and he wanted to see if he could find any news on it. He discovered the original 1998 game evolved into Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty in 2010. Melcher was surprised to find the sequel is played competitively. He also discovered League of Legends, another Microsoft Windows and OS X video game with a competitive following.

"I was just shocked at the size and scope and scale and the passion of the community," Melcher tells ThePostGame. "It's played at the high school level and the collegiate level and even professionally."

Melcher also happens to be associate athletic director at Robert Morris University-Illinois in Chicago. Rather than a hobby, he saw League of Legends as an opportunity to broaden the athletic department. Melcher brought the idea of giving out video game scholarships to Athletic Director Megan Smith Eggert, and the duo pitched the idea to RMU President Michael P. Viollt.

"To his credit, he's forward thinking," Melcher says. "He looked at it and he thought it made a lot of sense."

Robert Morris announced it is now offering gaming scholarships as part of its athletic program, specifically for the game League of Legends. The university is offering recruits money to study at the university and represent its colors in intercollegiate competitions.

"At our school, we offer scholarships for a wide variety of the traditional sports and obviously the untraditional things like bowling, color guard and band," Melcher says. "It just seemed like a natural progression for students that have a skill set outside traditional sports. Maybe they couldn't make their high school team or didn't want to, but they have a different skill set. It's still operating in a team environment."

The scholarships will not exceed 50 percent of tuition and 50 percent room and board. For reference, RMU costs $7,900 and housing with meals is $3,600 per quarter.

RMU would like to get its newest student-athletes in front of monitors as soon as this September. The team will participate in the Collegiate Star League, a gaming conference of 103 institutions of higher education. Many of the schools are Division I institutions and feature opponents other Robert Morris athletic teams do not get to face in NAIA competition.

RMU will be the only U.S. team offering substantial scholarships to its gamers. Melcher says colleges in Korea have already done this.


The athletic department's first step was getting the word out. Now, the school needs to find a coach. With the help of Riot Games, the developer of League of Legends, the coaching search is off to a fast start in the first two weeks.

"[Riot] has been providing a couple ideas and we've had a couple people contact us," Melcher says. "We've been going through that applicant base and we'll hopefully start interviewing next week."

A few upperclassmen have embraced the team and announced their credentials in League of Legends. Melcher says students are also trying to recruit friends for the team. He is confident there will be enough demand for the first season this September, with the new coach making the necessary cuts.

The players, or the coach for that matter, can be male or female. He says he has not personally crunched the numbers, but the administration is not worried about breaking any guidelines of Title IX.

League of Legends now has its own page on the Robert Morris Eagles' Athletics website.

WLS-TV in Chicago interviewed one of the scholarship candidates:

As for League of Legends, it is one of the most popular video games in the world on Windows and OS X. In January, The Wall Street Journal reported about 27 million people play the game each day. Riot Games' annual North American Collegiate Championship provides a $100,000 scholarship prize to the winning team.

Parents, if you are worried about your children's video game obsession hindered their abilities to get accepted into college, well, this may be your way out. If they get good enough, you may even save money.

Somewhere, Madden Nation stars are sulking this news did not come a decade ago.

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If you have been on Twitter in the past week, you have probably seen a lot of flags. You may recognize this has to do with the World Cup, but you may wonder how everyone got the memo to post flags. Are they just emojis that are becoming a trend?

Nope. It is all Twitter. Before the World Cup, Twitter reintroduced hashflags, a social media attribute applied during the 2010 World Cup. Every time, a Twitter user types in a three-letter hashtag affiliated with the nation of choice, the flag pops up along with it. The three-letter hashtags are the FIFA abbreviations of the countries.

For example ...


Unless the hashtag is used with the exact three letter, the flag does does not appear. Qasim Zaib of TechEclipse displayed the result of such an error in a series of tweets he made regarding hashflags.

The code #BEH did not trigger a hashflag. The hashflag code for Belgium (missing nation in Group H) is #BEL.

This is far from the only example of a wrong hashtag. More than a week into the World Cup, social media users are unknowingly leaving themselves empty-handed.

Belgium is not one of the common hashflags mistaken. According to Twitter data published on The Wall Street Journal, Cameroon is the most commonly missed hashflag, with 13.8 percent of hashtag attempters punching in the wrong hashtag. While the correct hashtag is #CMR, the most common wrong hashtag is #CAM.

Following Cameroon is Nigeria (#NGA) with 7.2 percent using the incorrect hashtag #NIG. Bosnia and Herzegovina (#BIH) is a near third with 6.3 percent going with #BOS.

Rounding out the top seven missed hashflags are Japan/#JPN (incorrect: #JAP, 4.6 percent), Spain/#ESP (incorrect: #SPA, 4.3 percent), Iran/#IRN (incorrect: #IRA, 3.5 percent) and Switzerland/#SUI (incorrect: #SWI, 3.2 percent).

If it is any consolation prize for Spain getting eliminated from the World Cup, the incorrect hashtag percentage should lower. This summer may feel a little different than the two Euro Championships and One World Cup Championship won in the past six years.

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College football traditionalists are known to blab about how there are too many modern bowls. In the 2014-15 season, there will be 39 FBS bowls. That means 78 of the 125 full FBS members will get a lick of the postseason.

On Wednesday, one of those bowls changed its name to something unique. Previously sponsored by magicJack (2008) and Beef O'Brady's (2009-2013), the St. Petersburg Bowl officially changed its name to the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl. Bitcoin, the digital currency payment system, has never hosted a college football game since the company's introduction in 2009. The inaugural Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl will be played Dec. 26 at Tropicana Field between ACC and American Athletic Conference teams.


There is some obvious skepticism over a bowl that features a dollar sign-type logo.


And of course, that was just the start of the fun:




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While successful, the most recent decade of EA Sports NHL video games have featured relative consistency. Gamers heard Gary Thorne and Bill Clement commentate, while hitting and passing was exciting, but arguably unrealistic.

Below, NHL 15 Producer Peter Sobczak introduces some of the features in the franchise's most recent edition, which hits stores Sept. 9. According to Sobczak, the new game features more realistic puck movement and contact between multiple players. That is not to mention a more detailed crowd and a new broadcast team, featuring Doc Emrick, Eddie Olyzyk and Ray Ferraro.

Rangers fans beware. The opponent in the video may bring back bad memories.

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In the effort to make FIFA '15 the most realistic soccer game ever made, EA Sports sweated out the details.

Everything from dirty uniforms to the proper ball spin to the emotional reaction of players based on the time and score of the match was considered.

Senior producer Nick Channon explained the process to us at the E3 event in Los Angeles:

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