PLANO, Texas – Learfield IMG College recently appointed Eric Hartness vice president, esports. This marks the first position of its kind for the company, which made a formidable entry into the college esports space eight months ago and on Sunday crowned its first-ever college Madden national champion as part of the Level Next college esports league launched with Electronic Arts.

To accelerate the company’s momentum, Hartness will be a valuable addition to the emerging esports division focusing on developing and expanding the company’s esports strategy and related inventory offerings. In addition to bringing three decades of diverse esports, business and marketing expertise to Learfield IMG College, Hartness brings a strong marketing background with a proven track record leading teams to launch dozens of hit game titles and produce several global esports tournaments at Bandai Namco, Amazon, Electronic Arts and ReKTGlobal.

Hartness is the former vice president, marketing for Bandai Namco and the former head of marketing for Amazon Game Studios. Additionally, he was vice president, marketing for Electronic Arts, where he led global product marketing for Tiger Woods, Harry Potter: Order of the Phoenix, The Simpsons, Dead Space, and The Godfather I and II. While at EA, Hartness held other high-level marketing roles involving strategic initiatives supporting Madden NFL and EA SPORTS Fantasy Football.

“We’ve made tremendous strides and have accomplished a lot since deciding to make a big play in college esports, and Eric is perfectly suited to guide us as we gain momentum in our offerings and related partnerships, while also understanding how to best serve our school and brand partners,” said Learfield IMG College’s EVP/Managing Director Media & Partnerships Group Rick Barakat. “There’s no doubting the impact and growth potential of college esports, and we’re excited to do that with Eric’s exceptional experience and deep understanding of both entertainment and gaming.”

“With its strong multimedia rights relationships with roughly 200 colleges and universities across the country, Learfield IMG College is best positioned to establish and authenticate collegiate esports for the millions of student gamers. I’m thrilled for the opportunity to help chart a new course for esports and its fans,” said Hartness.

Learfield IMG College is the leading media and technology services company in intercollegiate athletics. The company unlocks the value of college sports for brands and fans through an omnichannel platform with innovative content and commerce solutions for fan engagement. The Learfield IMG College suite of services includes licensing and multimedia sponsorship management; publishing, audio, digital and social media; data analytics; ticketing, ticket sales and professional concessions expertise; branding; campus-wide business and sponsorship development; and venue technology systems. Headquartered in Plano, Texas, the company has long had the privilege of being an advocate for intercollegiate athletics and the student-athlete experience.