JMU Football eyes Independent schedule, after CAA cancels conference games

The James Madison football team is entertaining the idea of playing an Independent schedule, after the Colonial Athletic Association announced on Friday it wouldn’t be playing football this fall.

JMU Football eyes Independent schedule, after CAA cancels conference games
The JMU football team earned the #2 seed in the FCS Tournament (Source: WVIR)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The James Madison football team is entertaining the idea of playing an Independent schedule, after the Colonial Athletic Association announced on Friday it wouldn’t be playing football this fall.

The CAA is the latest conference to suspend games, due to the threat of COVID-19.

However, they only canceled the conference schedule, leaving the door open for member schools to make their own decisions.

JMU Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne adds, “The most important takeaway for our JMU constituency is that we are committed to exploring all of our options to provide a championship experience for all of our programs, in keeping with our strong focus on the health and safety of all of our student-athletes, and other members of the JMU community.  That includes football, as well as other Fall sports.”

JMU football head coach Curt Cignetti says for his team, it was too soon for a full cancellation.

“Nobody knows what’s going to happen down the road,” says Cignetti. “Whether there will be football, or football in two weeks delayed, three weeks delayed. Nobody really knows, but if the environment is conducive to playing college football, and the championship season was going to be held in the fall, then JMU needs to be a part of it.”

Cignetti says he doesn't expect to have a lot of trouble finding games.

“Everybody’s going to be looking to play people,” says Cignetti. “If there was a college in our backyard, we’d play ‘em.”

The rapidly changing landscape potentially opens up some exciting match-up’s.

Cignetti says, “I think all options are on the table right now, in terms of the schedule.  I think the ideal situation, you are looking at multiple FBS games, and then filling in with FCS.  We’ve always felt good about our ability to compete against anybody we played.  We’ve proven in the past we can do that.  We’ve developed a great brand, and I think this decision was important to protect our brand.”

JMU has played in the FCS National Championship Game in the three of the last four years, winning the title in 2016.

The only non-conference games currently on their schedule are at home against Chattanooga (9/12), at North Carolina (9/19), and at home against Merrimack in the regular season finale (11/21).

No decision has been made by the CAA at this time regarding changes to the start of the Fall season for sports other than football.

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