Ball State University and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) have selected the first two recipients of a one-of-a-kind scholarship program for esports student-athletes.
The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Scholarship provides $5,000 per year to two Ball State’s members varsity sports team each year from the academic years 2022-23 to 2025-26. The scholarship program, which advances the University’s mission to recruit and retain the world’s top esports talent, is a key aspect of the recently formed partnership between Ball State and RLL, which is co-owned by the legend David Letterman Television, graduated from Ball State in 1969Bobby Rahal, winner of the 1986 Indianapolis 500, and businessman Mike Lanigan.
The first recipients of the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Scholarship are:
- Ar Muhammad Alef, a 23-year-old professional esports pilot from Singapore. Mr. Aleef graduated in Mechatronics, with a major in Robotics, from Temasek Polytechnic Singapore. At Ball State, he plans to major in Business Analytics.
- Rhett Crain18 years old, from Noblesville, Ind. Mr. Crain, specialized in games iRacing
and F1 2021plans to major in computer science at Ball State.
In addition to being the first recipients of this scholarship, these esports student-athletes will drive a Ball State/RLL-branded car in the upcoming INDYCAR video game when it releases in 2023.
“When considering the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Scholarship applicants, what made Ar Muhammad Aleef and Rhett Crain stand out was their passion and experience in both sim racing and live racing” , said Dan Marin, director of Ball State’s esports program and head coach of the university’s varsity esports team. “After getting to know both students better, it was clear that they saw the RLL scholarship not just as a route to competition, but as part of something larger within our esports program and through opportunities with RLL.”
The partnership between Ball State and RLL—created in February— provided other special opportunities for students engaged in Ball State’s esports program. This month, for example, several Ball State Esports students took advantage of an exclusive opportunity to visit and watch members of the RLL racing team in action at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as they prepared for the 106e Indianapolis 500 race.
“We share Ball State’s excitement and pride in welcoming the first two recipients of the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Scholarship,” said Tom Knox, senior vice president of sales and marketing for RLL. “When we announced the creation of RLL Esport in 2021, we knew the esports industry would be an exciting new way for us to stay engaged with our partners, our fans and the wider racing community. Since then, in partnership with Ball State and its esports program, we continue to find new and innovative ways to tap into the bright young minds of the future, while giving back to our community, our state, and our sport.
Innovation in sports
Ball State’s unique partnership with RLL Racing – combining traditional racing with simulated racing – puts the University at the forefront of the collegiate esports industry.
What’s more, these high-level education-business partnerships can be invaluable to Indiana’s economic vitality, according to Rollie Helmling, motorsports adviser at the Indiana Economic Development Corporation
“As Indiana continues to grow, it is expanding the educational opportunities and partnerships that enable great advancements in racing and esports,” Helmling said. “A racing team like Rahal Letterman Lanigan partnering with Ball State University is a great example of how our state is working diligently to attract and retain innovative talent, and illustrates that Hoosier partnerships are leading the way for a evolutionary thought.
For Dr Paaige TurnerDean of Ball State’s College of Communication, Information and Media (CCIM), home to the University’s esports program, having one of the few college esports simulation racing programs in the country, supported by a unique partnership with a professional racing team, allows the college to attract top talent not only in gaming, but in other areas such as media, film, entertainment production, news and more.
“Sim racing as a genre in esports is growing in popularity every year, and we see an incredible opportunity for our university to be at the forefront of the college esports industry,” said Dean Turner. . “By adding the layer of the Rahal Letterman Lanigan partnership to this, students with a passion for racing can raise the curtain to see how an amazing organization like RLL works behind the scenes, while making connections and gaining experience for propel them. into fulfilling careers and meaningful lives.
Ball State launched its college esports program in January 2021, becoming a founding member of the Esports Collegiate Conference. That of the University esports production
concentration, under the direction of the CCIM Media Department, offers practical instruction for students to develop their skills in the field of esports media. Students in the program learn the history of esports, video production, streaming, and live event broadcasting.
Ball State has more than 800 students who participate in its student-run esports club, including more than 50 student-athletes on its varsity esports team. For more information on Ball State’s esports program, email [email protected] or call 765-285-6025.