RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — After starting the season with eight consecutive wins, the James Madison University (JMU) Dukes are rolling on the football field.
However, their success isn’t without controversy. That’s because, despite being undefeated so far this year and being ranked within the top 25 teams in the nation, the Dukes are barred from competing in a bowl game this postseason.
Last year, JMU’s athletic programs began competing in the Sun Belt Conference, meaning the school’s football team was propelled to the Football Bowl Subdivision — the highest level of college football.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association has a rule which bars teams moving from the Football Championship Subdivision to FBS from playing in a bowl game at the end of both of their first two seasons. Now, State Senator Louise Lucas (D) is backing a lawsuit against the NCAA to try and change that.
In a post on X on October 27th, Lucas said, “Today I saw @JasonMiyaresVA and told him that he has my full support to bring a lawsuit against the NCAA in the western district of Virginia to ensure the Dukes are treated fairly. Meanwhile I am working on a letter going to legislators nationwide about the NCAA- stay tuned.”
8News Legal Analyst Russ Sone says while states have sued the NCAA in the past, a lawsuit like this is unlikely to work.
“The response from the NCAA would obviously be ‘JMU knew the rules, they made a choice and everybody has to live by the rules,'” said Stone.
Earlier this year, JMU filed a waiver that would allow them to play in a bowl game, but it was denied by the NCAA. A letter from Attorney General Jason Miyares, a JMU alum, urging the NCAA to reconsider was also rebuffed.
Stone says any potential lawsuit is simply an attempt to put more pressure on the NCAA.
“We’re just talking about NCAA rules,” Stone said. “They can be waived. The NCAA doesn’t have to maintain those rules if they don’t want to. Now you just have a groundswell of support to convince them to waive the rules in this case. “
There is one avenue for the Dukes that could get them into postseason play — JMU would be allowed to play in a bowl game if there are not enough eligible teams to fill the number of open bowl game slots.