PIU announces inaugural eSports program and Head Coach Michael Key

PIU announces inaugural eSports program and Head Coach Michael Key
July 01
14:35 2020

Piedmont International University (PIU) is pleased to announce the addition of eSports this upcoming fall 2020. As one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, eSports will promote PIU not only on a national level, but a global one as well.

“We are excited to add eSports to our array of athletic programs,” said Assistant Director of Athletics Shealynn Miller. “eSports will provide an exciting opportunity for a new kind of athlete to join our campus culture.” 

Piedmont has named Michael Key as the Bruins inaugural head coach of eSports. Key, an alumnus of Piedmont International, currently plays professionally for the Minnesota Timberwolves, T-Wolves Gaming. Michael, best known by his NBA2K fans as “BearDaBeast,” is now one of the most decorated guards in Pro-AM history after being named league MVP last season.

“The opportunity to have Michael Key serve as our first eSports coach is a rare privilege,” expressed Director of Athletics Steve Condon. “Michael was a fine player and competitor on Piedmont’s basketball team a few years ago, and now he enjoys “world-class” success on the Timberwolves championship NBA2K team. Michael has enjoyed a long personal relationship with our president and has a passion for his school. What an honor it will be for future eSports athletes to be recruited and coached by “BearDaBeast.” We look forward to his arrival after his season is over in the NBA.”

Michael Key, aka BearDaBeast, was selected in the first round of the 2019 2K League Draft.

“It is amazing to see PIU jumping into the eSports scene,” said Head Coach Michael Key. “It shows they’re advancing with the times and open to growth. eSports is the next big thing. I couldn’t be more honored [to be named head coach]. When Dr. Pettit told me Piedmont was interested in starting the program, I couldn’t believe it. Never in a million years would I have thought I could have graduated from college, become a professional eSports player, and coach my alma mater inaugural season. It is a blessing!”

The Bruins will field teams that will participate in several online games, including NBA 2K, League of Legends, Fortnite, and Overwatch. PIU eSports will join the National Association of Collegiate for eSports (NACE), which sponsors over 180 varsity and club level programs at higher education institutions.

With the addition of varsity eSports, Piedmont has also developed a bachelor of arts in eSports. The program is designed to prepare students for a future career in the growing eSports arena, such as gaming, events management, nutrition, teamwork, regulation, journalism, game design, social media, and marketing.

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