The University of Michigan is to introduce an esports academic programme from 2022 ©Getty Images

The chief executive of Activision Blizzard, Bobby Kotick, has assisted with the establishment of a multi-disciplinary esports programme at the University of Michigan School of Information.

Kotick, who founded the US-based video game company, will contribute in laying the foundations for an esports minor at the University of Michigan by 2022, by donating $4 million (£2.88 million/€3.32 million).

This funding will support a professor to develop the programme, as well as combine research and instruction in computer science, sports management and user experience into the course.

Activision Blizzard has developed and published a number of famous console and mobile games including Call of Duty, Candy Crush and World of Warcraft.

"Esports is poised for explosive growth, and I am thrilled to join the University of Michigan to develop a programme that will cultivate the talent to meet the needs of this complex and evolving industry," said Kotick.

"Unlike traditional sports, esports is truly a participant sport that anyone can play and enjoy.

"Most of the people watching are also playing - this leads to greater enthusiasm, engagement and truly unlimited potential.

"University of Michigan combines world-class instruction, research and athletics, making them the perfect partner for a multi-disciplinary collegiate programme that will help shape the future of esports."

University of Michigan School of Information dean Thomas Finholt thanked Kotick for his donation.

"This generous gift by Bobby Kotick gives us an opportunity to contribute to an understanding of video gaming broadly and esports more specifically as a tremendously important cultural and economic phenomenon," said Finholt.

"The time is right - this is the right place to do it.

"I think it's a natural fit at the University of Michigan, given our interest as an institution, as a student body and as alumni, in games."

A professor is set to be in place by the end of the 2021-2022 academic year, ahead of the next season.

The University of Michigan launched a recreational sports competitive esports programme in September 2020.