The James Madison Dukes have accepted an invitation to join the Sun Belt Conference, it was officially announced on Saturday.
James Madison, currently a member of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), will move up to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and will enter the Sun Belt Conference no later than July 1, 2023, according to the announcement.
“We are thrilled to welcome James Madison University to the Sun Belt Conference,” said Keith Gill, Sun Belt Conference Commissioner. “This move brings another strong brand and passionate fanbase into the Sun Belt and elevates the Dukes’ storied football program to the highest level of NCAA competition. I am grateful to JMU President Jonathan Alger and Athletics Director Jeff Bourne for their leadership during this process and look forward to working closely with them moving forward.”
James Madison has competed as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association in the FCS since 2007. The Dukes are currently led by head coach Curt Cignetti, who has an overall record of 28-4 (14-1 CAA) at the school.
“Since July, our presidents and chancellors have expressed confidence in Sun Belt leadership and our member configuration amid national realignment conversations,” said Dr. Kelly Damphousse, Arkansas State Chancellor & Chair of the Sun Belt Executive Committee. “The recent additions of Marshall, Southern Miss, and Old Dominion to the SBC aligned perfectly with our strategic goal of only adding schools that improved our conference’s competitiveness. As I shared with President Alger and AD Bourne, the Sun Belt CEOs believe that JMU likewise mirrors our conference’s athletics and academic missions, while also capitalizing on regionality goals. I was very impressed with JMU’s beautiful campus and by their FBS-level facility investment during our visit. My colleagues and I look forward to welcoming the Dukes to the Sun Belt Conference!”
“As James Madison University prepares and anticipates to earn additional national recognition for our academic programs and excellence, admission into the Sun Belt Conference is a natural and complementary next step for our institution,” said JMU President Jonathan Alger. “We are thrilled to have received and accepted an invitation into this conference, with a new and visionary opportunity for high-level competition within the eastern region. We have always sought to do things the right way as a university for our students, faculty and staff, student-athletes and coaches and the time is right for JMU to move up to the highest level in D-1 athletics and enter the Sun Belt! This is an exciting and historic moment of transition for JMU, and I greatly appreciate the teamwork and diligence of so many people behind the scenes that have enabled us to reach this important milestone.”
Last week, the Sun Belt officially announced the addition of Old Dominion, Marshall, and Southern Miss to the conference, also no later than July 1, 2023. With the addition of those three and now James Madison, the Sun Belt will have a total of 14 football-playing schools.