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Update: JMU accepts invite to join the Sun Belt Conference

James Madison University is joining the Sun Belt Conference.
James Madison University is joining the Sun Belt Conference.(WHSV)
Published: Nov. 5, 2021 at 11:05 AM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - James Madison University is joining the Sun Belt Conference.

UPDATE - Saturday, November 6

James Madison University and the Sun Belt Conference held a press conference at JMU’s Atlantic Union Bank Center Saturday morning to officially announce the Dukes’ move to the SBC.

UPDATE - Friday, November 5

The Dukes have accepted an invite to join the Sun Belt, a JMU spokesperson confirmed to WHSV Friday afternoon. The official announcement comes after James Madison earned state approval Friday morning to make the jump from the FCS to the FBS, the highest level of college football. A press conference to announce JMU’s move to the Sun Belt is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at the Atlantic Union Bank Center.

The Intercollegiate Athletics Review Commission of the Virginia General Assembly met in Richmond Friday morning and voted unanimously to give JMU the go-ahead to make the jump to the FBS and join the Sun Belt. Virginia state legislation requires programs, like JMU, to gain approval from the VA General Assembly when making a change in division. The Dukes are currently a member of the FCS and competing in the Colonial Athletic Association.

JMU President Jonathan Alger and senior Vice President of Administration and Finance Charlie King spoke at Friday’s meeting.

“We have been detailed and thorough in following the scripted process to consider opportunities with the Sun Belt Conference,” said Alger and JMU Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne in a statement. “We are glad to have this key component completed, and we appreciate the assistance of the Commonwealth’s Intercollegiate Athletics Review Commission today. We are excited about the next step for the future of James Madison University and our intercollegiate athletics program.”

Alger said during the meeting that James Madison will plan to begin its transition to the Sun Belt on July 1, 2022. However, JMU football would not be a member of the conference immediately. There is a transition period for programs making the jump from the FCS to the FBS:

The Sun Belt Conference features teams from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas. To learn more about the Sun Belt Conference, click here.

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