James Madison University Loses Opportunity to Compete in Post-Season

When JMU decided to switch conferences, the CAA decided to not allow Dukes athletics to compete in any CAA postseason events

James Madison University announced that they will be leaving the Colonial Athletic Association, and will be heading to the Sun Belt Conference. JMU will join the Sun Belt Conference no later than July 1, 2023, per JMU News.

When JMU decided to switch conferences, the CAA decided to not allow Dukes athletics to compete in any CAA postseason events. Within the CAA’s bylaws is a provision that allows for such a moratorium on postseason play if a school has declared intentions to depart the league. This means JMU loses the chance to earn any automatic bids.


The Dukes only being allowed to earn at-large births exponentially lessens their chances to make the postseason. Thus, the Dukes’ community, players, and fans throughout the nation are showing a heavy distaste for the CAA’s decision.

Both James Madison University women’s soccer and field hockey teams will compete in their CAA conference tournaments, due to the decision not being made in time to change their schedule.

James Madison’s football team (12-1) earned the No.3 overall seed for the 2021 NCAA Football Championship Playoffs. They received a first-round bye and then hosted both Southeastern Louisiana University (#20) and University of Montana (#5), and were victorious over both teams (59-20 & 28-6). After, on December 18th, the Dukes faced North Dakota State University (13-1) and lost 14-20.

James Madison University’s Successes

June 4, 2021 – JMU Softball (41-4) First-Ever Women’s College World Series Win

Dukes softball got a big win over #1 University of Oklahoma 4-3 in 8 innings. They then beat #5 Oklahoma State University 2-1. After those 2 wins, the University of Oklahoma had to win both games to be deemed the National Champions, while the Lady Dukes only had to win 1 game. James Madison fell short but had a great post-season journey.

May 27, 2018 – James Madison Women’s Lacrosse (21-1) Wins National Championship

The Dukes defeated Boston College (21-1) 16-15 with JMU keeping BC scoreless during the second half for 15 minutes. They then had a late surge to capture their first National Championship.

January 17, 2017 – James Madison Football (13-1) Wins National Championship

This 2017 NCAA Division 1 Football Championship was to determine the National Championship for the 2016 season. The Dukes beat Youngstown State University 28-14 to claim their National Championship title.

Dukes Football win over University of Montana (9-2) – 31-21.

— Hunter Wells – Passing – 28-47, 271 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT

— Jody Webb – Rushing – 17 car, 41 yds,

— Tom Ridley -Receiving –  7 rec, 68 yds

December 17, 2004 – James Madison Football (9-2) Wins National Championship

Dukes Football wins over University of Montana (9-2) – 31-21.

— Justin Rascati – Passing – 13-18, 132 yds

— Maurice Fenner – Rushing – 29 car, 164 yds, 2 TDs

— Tom Ridley -Receiving –  3 rec, 32 yds

November 20, 1994 – James Madison Field Hockey (16-2-1) Wins National Championship

Dukes took the regular-season title with a 6-0 record and headed to compete in its first NCAA tournament. They received a first-round bye and then defeated Penn State in a double-overtime 1-0 win. The Dukes then preceded to beat Northwestern University and headed to their first-ever National Championship against the #1 UNC Tarheels. The two teams battled to a 1-1 draw through two overtimes. In penalty strokes, JMU defeated the Tar Heels and took home the school’s first-ever NCAA crown, per JMU Hall of Fame.

Dukes Gone Pro

  • Gary Clark – Football – Washington Redskins
  • Charles Haley – Football – San Fransico 49ers
  • Warren Marshall – Football – Denver Broncos
  • Neal Wilkinson – Football – Green Bay Packers
  • Shawn Woodson – Football – Minnesota Vikings
  • Steve Bates – Football – Los Angeles Rams
  • Mike Cawley – Football – Indianapolis Colts
  • Macey Brooks – Football – Dallas Cowboys
  • Ed Perry – Football – Miami Dolphins
  • Tony Booth – Football Carolina Panthers
  • Curtis Keaton – Football – Cincinnati Bengals
  • Scotty McGee – Football – Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Arthur Moats – Football – Buffalo Bills
  • Earl Watford – Football – Arizona Cardinals
  • Daniel Brown – Football – New York Jets
  • Jimmy Moreland – Football – Washington Redskins
  • Ben DiNucci – Football – Dallas Cowboys
  • Odicci Alexander – Softball – USSSA Pride
  • Tiombe Hurd – Track and Field – 2004 US Olympic Trials/ American outdoor triple jump record holder
  • Billy Sample – Baseball – Texas Rangers
  • Mike Venafro – Baseball – Texas Rangers
  • Tamera Young – Women’s Basketball – Atlanta Dream

What’s Next for James Madison University Athletics?

The success highlighted above doesn’t even begin to cover the full story of JMU Athletics’ true successes. This move will put their athletes in the best position to compete against the best in the nation. Meanwhile, this move was planned to align with the school’s future plans to move to an R2 level, which is the second-highest designation granted by the Carnegie classification system for colleges and universities. Moving to an R2 level will change James Madison University from a regional university to a national university.

The Dukes Football team is very excited and ready to transition from the FCS to the FBS. This transition starts July 1, 2022  and ends on June 24, 2024.  This means the Dukes will be fully FBS including bowl eligibility by their 2024 season. All other programs are able to compete in post-season play as soon as they move to the Sun Belt Conference, according to JMU Sports.