RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – James Madison University’s undefeated football team is bringing ESPN’s “College GameDay” back to Harrisonburg, but it’s not swaying the NCAA.
The school moved to the highest tier of college football this past offseason and wanted to bypass the imposed two-year transition period to play in a bowl game. JMU asked the NCAA for a waiver for postseason play twice — and was denied twice.
The 10-0 Dukes, ranked No. 18 in the AP Top 25 poll, can only play in a bowl if there aren’t 82 teams with an even or winning record to qualify for one of the 41 games.
Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, a JMU graduate, said Thursday that he’s “prepared to expose the NCAA’s unlawful conduct and seek justice for James Madison University through litigation,” if the school allows him to move forward.
“We’re saddened for our university community and, in particular, we’re devastated for our football program, the coaches and student-athletes who have orchestrated an amazing season and earned the opportunity,” JMU Athletics said in a statement Wednesday.
A law firm picked by Miyares sent a letter Wednesday to the NCAA before the decision was announced that said JMU was prepared to file a federal antitrust lawsuit seeking monetary damages, a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to allow the school to play in the postseason.
“To the extent the request for relief is not granted and the NCAA declines to otherwise remove the postseason restrictions, JMU requests a response to this letter by Friday, November 17 at noon eastern time notifying us of your outside counsel’s contact information so we can provide them a copy of the complaint that we file and request that they make themselves available for a hearing seeking emergency relief on either November 21 or 22, at a time convenient to the Court,” the letter from the law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, first reported by ESPN and obtained by 8News, reads.
A JMU spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the letter or Miyares’ remarks Thursday.
A potential lawsuit will argue that the NCAA’s rules on new entrants’ bowl eligibility “is an unreasonable restraint of trade in the market in the United States for postseason bowl games and/or the FBS” in violation of federal and state antitrust laws, per the letter.
How successful this legal approach will be is unclear, but one legal expert said a lawsuit is unlikely to change things.
Miyares, state lawmakers and other prominent alumni have pressed the NCAA on the policy as JMU has picked up national attention while climbing the college football rankings.
Talk about the NCAA’s decision is unlikely to stop soon as ESPN’s flagship college football show, “College GameDay,” is making its third stop at JMU this Saturday.
“As we turn the page, we have an incredible week lined up with College GameDay here and our final home game, so we’re focused on maximizing these moments for our university and celebrating our senior class,” JMU Athletics added.