Brent Sutphin, technical services manager for the University Union and Hub at the University of Southern Mississippi, has been named a finalist for the Program Director of the Year Award presented by the National Association of Collegiate Esports.
Sutphin, now in his 14th year at USM, is one of three finalists, along with Chris Haskell of Boise State University and Luke Trotz of St. Francis University.
NACE is a nonprofit membership association organized by and on behalf of its member institutions.
Together, the members are developing the structure and tools needed to advance collegiate esports in the varsity space.
Esports are a form of sporting competition using video games. Professional and club esports have seen rapid growth in both participation and viewership since the early 2000s, and NACE member schools compete in a number of different game titles, including “Rocket League” and “Fortnite.”
Its members are collaborating to lay the groundwork in areas such as eligibility, path to graduation, and competition and scholarships.
NACE is the only association of varsity esports programs at colleges and universities across the U.S.
USM’s Esports program kicked off in February of this year.
Sutphin handles oversight of any audio-visual equipment and technology services while working with USM Union student staff for events.
“It’s exciting to see how quickly this program has grown and developed in such a short period of time,” said Sutphin. “I see this finalist position as validating all the hard work put in by the students in the Eagle Esports student organization and the efforts of so many staff members at USM.”
Dr. Denny Bubrig, assistant vice president for student affairs at USM, said that Sutphin has been an invaluable member of the Eagles Esports’ leadership team from the onset.
“Brent’s insights and the way he connects with students have been key pieces as we kicked off our program last academic year,” said Bubrig. “This is a genuine testament to him, and it is a great milestone for the program as a whole to have one of our own recognized in the same company as well-established programs like Boise State and St. Francis.”