In the summer of 2019, Cal State Fullerton’s Overwatch team was invited by L.A. Valiant, a professional esports organization, to participate in a tournament with eight of the top qualifying collegiate teams in Southern California.
The team would still manage to win a cash prize of several hundreds of dollars; however, the club has yet to see any of the earnings from the tournament.
Kevin Guan, the club’s treasurer who participated in the tournament, said that the money was being held by the CSUF Philanthropic Foundation, which is responsible for the investment and management of any financial awards delegated for the university. He said that he attempted to contact the foundation in order to receive the earnings, but was not successful.
“It’s become somewhat of an inside joke between our team,” Guan said. “I think we are kind of expecting it not to go through because it’s been taking so long.”
Adam Nelson, the club’s former president, has been adamant about going to the foundation and asking for the earnings to be reallocated to the club and eventually to it’s players.
“The campus had no clue what to do, so they just sent us everywhere,” Nelson said.
After months of back and forth between the Associated Students and the philanthropic department, Nelson said that the money was eventually deposited into the club funds a year later.
Although Nelson said that the money has been deposited to their club fund, Rachel Metcalfe, the club’s president and Guan said that they aren’t able to access the funds.
Nelson added that club members were in need of the earnings to alleviate some of the financial pressure that came with receiving an education.
“The players were really requesting for the sake of purchasing textbooks and their everyday school lives,” he said. “So most of them, I think a majority of the team, were living on campus, so their funds were pretty low.”
Guan echoed Nelson’s frustrations in their attempts in reaching out to the foundation saying that the foundation had not responded to any emails.
CSUF’s Rocket League team, a similar gaming team on campus, has been successful in receiving funds from the foundation, for their placement in a collegiate tournament in June.
The philanthropic department did not respond to the Daily Titan’s request for a statement.
For funding, Guan said the club relies on membership fees that have rolled over from the previous semester, online fundraisers and T-shirt purchases.
Funds in the past have been used to help pay for the club’s Minecraft server, online tournament prize pools and reimbursing other members who have spent their own money for the club. Guan said it’s been a sustainable source of income so far, with only needing at most $350 to keep the club of nearly 100 members afloat.
However, Guan is unsure if that money will be able to sustain the club for another semester.
While the club manages to secure funding for jerseys and entrance fees to participate in tournaments from the Sport Club Inter-Club Council, management hasn’t been able to get access to the club’s own funds since the beginning of the semester.
“We haven’t gotten access to any of our club money that we’ve got stored with the school since we went online,” said Rachel Metcalfe, the president of the club. “So we’ve just been using memberships for the last semester (that) were paid in cash.”
Metcalfe said that they’ve been trying to get into contact with several representatives on campus with assistance from Gleanne Kienzler, the coordinator of student organizations.
The club was redirected multiple times to different people, but Metcalfe said that they were not helpful.
“We started at (Kienzler), and she was helpful, and then no one else was helpful,” Metcalfe said.
Metcalfe said that they have had previous trouble in acquiring funds as some of the members of the council don’t believe that esports is a valid sport.
However, both she and Guan agreed that the council has been more understanding in helping the club as it is the only club sport that is actively participating in events.
As the club continues to find the answers on accessing its money, they are still active and host meetings twice a month and play online together. Despite the pandemic preventing students from convening on campus, the club also teams up with other game-related clubs to host events online.