JMU Out of 2021-22 CAA Championships If School Accepts Invite to New Conference

James Madison University will be barred from Colonial Athletic Association championship events for the 2021-22 school year if it accepts an invitation to join another conference, the league told the school Wednesday.

The school is reportedly planning to move from the FCS to the FBS and is considering joining the Sun Belt Conference. The move reportedly could be announced as soon as Friday.

“As we head into a potentially monumental week for the future of James Madison University and our intercollegiate athletics program, we were extremely disappointed to be informed by the Colonial Athletic Association that, should the university accept an invitation to another conference, JMU student-athletes would not be allowed to compete for postseason conference team championships and, therefore, for the opportunity to earn NCAA automatic team qualification,” JMU President Jonathan Alger and athletic director Jeff Bourne said in a joint statement to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “In an era when the industry of college athletics stresses student-athlete welfare, this decision is completely contrary to those ideals.”

The ability to revoke conference championship play is written into the CAA’s bylaws. The conference previously enforced the rule on Old Dominion in 2013 when the school left for Conference USA.

“Our intent certainly is not to take punitive action against any individual student-athletes,” CAA Commissioner Joe D’Antonio told USA Today. “But it is important that we adhere to what the bylaws of the conference say, and that’s what the board of directors decided to do as we go forward. This isn’t something that was just created yesterday. This has been a rule that existed within the conference for quite some time and has been enforced in the past when other institutions have chosen to leave.”

James Madison is one of the more successful athletics programs in the CAA. The women’s-only swim and dive team has won the last four straight conference titles and 11 overall. The women’s lacrosse team won the national title in 2018 and has 16 NCAA tournament berths, while the football team has two national titles and seven consecutive FCS playoff berths and the men’s basketball program won the CAA regular-season crown last year.

The potential move to a new conference comes as college football is undergoing a massive realignment. More than 20 schools have announced plans to move conferences since Texas and Oklahoma announced they were leaving the Big 12 for the SEC in July.

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