HARRISONBURG, Va (WRIC) — After announcing last year that they had accepted an invitation to join the Sun Belt Conference, James Madison University announced their athletic programs will be officially joining the conference for the 2022-2023 academic year.
The one JMU team that will not be making a move to the Sun Belt is the women’s lacrosse team. Since the Sun Belt does not have lacrosse, they will be joining the American Athletic Conference.
The move is a lateral one in terms of athletic division for most of the school’s programs, but the football team will be making the move to the Football Bowl Subdivision — the highest tier of NCAA Football.
The University has been part of the Colonial Athletic Association since 2007, where they have had considerable success — particularly in football. JMU’s football team has an all-time winning record against every current CAA team except for Delaware, who they are 13-14 against. They’ve also won every CAA Championship since 2015, except for when they came in second to Maine in 2018.
When JMU announced they had accepted an invitation to the Sun Belt in November 2021, the CAA announced the school would be banned from all championships for the rest of their time in the conference.
JMU’s football team has had considerable success in the Football Championship Subdivision — the lower tier of NCAA Division I football — for the last several years. They won their second FCS National Championship in 2016 and made appearances in the championship game in 2017 and 2019. The team has had a record of 33-5 since Head Coach Curt Cignetti took over in 2019.
For the first year of JMU Football in FBS and the new conference, they will be ineligible for the Sun Belt Championship or a postseason bowl game, but will have all the benefits of membership besides that.
The Dukes will be joining Appalacian State, Arkansas Stae, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Louisiana Lafayette, Louisiana Monroe, South Alabama, Texas State and Troy on July 1.