The Big 12 Conference announced it would be launching its first-ever esports tournament in collaboration with Learfield IMG College for the 10 schools in a press release on Monday.
The event will begin July 13-16, when each Big 12 school will host a single-elimination qualifying tournament featuring Madden NFL 20.
"One winner representing each member institution will advance to the Big 12 Conference Championship July 18-19," Big 12 announced in the press release. "Registration for the qualifying tournaments is open to all Big 12 students beginning June 22, and closes July 10."
The finals of each school tournament and games from the Big 12 Championship rounds will be on Big 12 Now on ESPN+. The host of Big 12 This Week, Bill Pollock, will be calling the action and joined by radio play-by-play announcers for select broadcasts.
Learfield IMG College and Mainline will be doing the remote production for all games of the tournament.
"This is a great opportunity to engage in an emerging space on a Conference-wide level," said Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby in the press release. "This opportunity is a unique way to provide original content from within a competitive environment during these challenging times. We appreciate the collaborative efforts that have made this a first-of-its-kind Big 12 Championship tournament possible."
Learfield IMG College has managed the Big 12's conference-level multimedia rights since April 2019 and has individual multimedia rights with the 10 Big 12 member schools. The esports tournament is another step in its vision to increase its media and technology focus.
"Esports represents a huge opportunity to extend our traditional sports marketing offerings to brand partners, both now and when sports resume, and we're proud to lean in with the Big 12 to create a unique offering for its member schools, students and fans," said Learfield IMG College Chief Content, Development and Strategy Officer Rob Schneider. "Working with an established esports technology leader like Mainline affords both the schools and brands another powerful way to connect with students who love to game and compete."