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CAA reaffirms decision to deny waiver request from JMU

James Madison wins the CAA championship for the fourth year in a row.
James Madison wins the CAA championship for the fourth year in a row.(WHSV)
Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 6:28 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 10, 2021 at 10:08 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The Colonial Athletic Association Board banned James Madison University from conference championships following the school’s decision to join the Sun Belt Conference. Dukes petitioned with other schools to have that changed so that athletes could still play in conference tournaments.

Now, the CAA Board of Directors has reaffirmed its decision to deny a waiver request from the university to allow its teams to compete during the 2021-22 season.

After a full discussion of the matter and a vote, the Board stated the following:

1. The CAA wishes JMU well and respects its decision to change subdivisions and join the Sun Belt Conference.

2. JMU alone set the timeline for its withdrawal from the CAA, having full knowledge of the consequences of its decision. The university could have chosen to announce its withdrawal from the CAA at the end of the Fall 2021 semester, allowing its men’s soccer and volleyball teams to compete in their respective CAA Championships. Additionally, if JMU had chosen to defer a withdrawal announcement to an even later date most, if not all, of its qualifying teams would have been permitted to participate in CAA Championships. JMU chose a timeline that fit its needs.

3. The CAA is following a process that is well established and that JMU leadership supported in several prior conference realignment scenarios.

4. This is not a decision that the CAA took lightly, and it agrees with JMU that caring for the health and wellness of student-athletes is of paramount importance. With that in mind, the CAA has made decisions that it feels are best for the member institutions and student-athletes that will remain in the CAA. The opportunity to compete for a Conference championship should be reserved for institutions and student-athletes that are committed to being part of the Conference.

With the formal resolution of this matter, the CAA Board of Directors expressed its desire for an amicable and mutually respectful relationship between the CAA and JMU moving forward.

Wednesday evening, JMU President Jonathan Alger and Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne released the following statement:

“We are disappointed for our student-athletes and coaches. They pour everything into the opportunity to compete for championships, and we hurt for what they lost by the CAA’s affirmation of its previous decision. There’s no right way and right time to make a conference transition.  The timing of any such opportunity and announcement is never fully under the control of a single institution. We tried every step of the way through this process to be transparent. We made our intentions known to the league. The fact remains that, to our knowledge, the CAA is the only conference in the country with this championships rule. Yes, we knew the rule, but we also knew the process to appeal the rule and trusted that CAA leadership would do the right thing for our student-athletes. We began our discussions and pursuit of that appeal before any decision occurred related to a conference move. We know why the CAA Championships rule was created. It was never intended to ban student-athletes from championships after they had already clinched a spot. In fact, VCU was allowed to compete in the CAA baseball championship eight days after it announced its departure for the Atlantic 10 in 2012. This bylaw was also not created in the world that we find ourselves in today. We sit amidst an NCAA governance restructuring process, which is taking place because there are things broken in college athletics that we need to fix. Every decision moving forward should continue to be about our student-athletes. As has been made abundantly clear this evening, the best interest of JMU student-athletes moving forward is to compete in the Sun Belt Conference.”

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