Carl Leone has been named head coach of the Oakland University esports program, Director of Athletics Steve Waterfield announced on Monday, March 30. 

“I am thrilled to be a part of Oakland University’s inaugural esports program,” Leone said. “I am honored to be able to apply my knowledge of esports to support future student-athletes.”

Leone joins the Golden Grizzlies after spending the last year as the League of Legends coach at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids in its inaugural season.

“I am very happy to welcome Carl to the Golden Grizzlies Athletics Department family and to have him serve as the first head coach in Oakland University varsity esports history,” Waterfield said. “Carl brings experiences as a collegiate gamer and coach, which will prove valuable as he leads the esports team.”

While at Aquinas, Leone assisted with recruitment, budgeting, scheduling, fundraising, and in-game performance.

Prior to his time at Aquinas, Leone served as the assistant esports coach at Robert Morris University. While on the Eagles’ staff, Leone assisted with the analytical preparation for competitions, provided student-athletes with personal improvement plans and generated content for the esports social media channels.

“Throughout the interview process, Carl articulated a clear plan for building the program, collaborating with campus and community partners, and providing a well-rounded student-athlete experience within, and outside the competitive arena,” Waterfield said. “I look forward to working with him as we build the varsity esports program and make Oakland University a leader in esports.”

A native of Lake Orion, Mich., Leone earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Robert Morris University in 2018. During his time at RMU, Leone was a member of the esports team where he competed in League of Legends.

“This program will bring further recognition and praise to such an outstanding university and my hometown community,” Leone said. “While it is still in the initial stages, it is clear to me the administration and athletic department fully support this initiative and are committed to its success. I am very excited to get started and work with the student-athletes.”

In December Oakland became the first Division I university in the state of Michigan to formally announce the addition of a varsity esports team to its athletics program. The team will begin competition in the fall of 2020. The University also announced a unique partnership with Team Renegades, a professional esports team based at GameTime in Auburn Hills.