HARRISONBURG, Va. (WAVY) — There’s a new development in undefeated JMU football’s quest to play in this year’s postseason.
JMU officials have sent a letter to the NCAA to request the lifting of bylaws that currently restrict the Dukes’ ability to play in a football bowl game, after their postseason waiver request was initially denied back in April. JMU’s conference, the Sun Belt, also sent a similar letter to the NCAA on Monday, the Daily News Record reported, and said it would allow the Dukes to play in the conference championship if the NCAA approves full bowl eligibility.
This is the first major public request from JMU and its athletic department to the NCAA since that waiver was denied. Though in recent weeks Virginia politicians, including Virginia Attorney General and JMU alum Jason Miyares, have notably petitioned the NCAA and even threatened lawsuits.
JMU Athletic Director Jeff Bourne said in a press conference on Tuesday said that JMU’s goal with the letter was ” just to put our best foot forward.”
JMU’s team is currently 9-0 and ranked No. 21 in the country by the Associated Press, but can’t play in a bowl unless there are not enough teams that finish .500 or better due to the NCAA’s rules for a team transitioning from FCS (formerly I-AA) to FBS. JMU’s currently in its second year of the transition up a level of competition.
And even if there aren’t enough .500 teams, JMU’s still ineligible for a coveted New Year’s Six bowl game slot, which is given to the highest ranked Group of Five team and includes a $4 million payout to the school’s conference. JMU emphasized that it’s currently the top Group of Five team in various metrics, including ESPN’s SP+ and power rankings (No. 19) and only behind No. 20 Tulane in the AP Poll.
In the letter, JMU also argues that it’s followed all of the rules for a transitioning team, and that the two-year FBS transition rules were made before the current College Football Playoff system was created.
Meanwhile JMU continues to roll on the gridiron. They dispatched a previously 6-2 Georgia State team last week on the road, 42-14, to move to 9-0 and 17-3 overall (15-3 against FBS competition) since making the move to FBS. They have wins over an ACC team in Virginia (which beat previously No. 10 North Carolina), a 7-2 Troy team that finished No. 19 last season, South Alabama (a team that crushed No. 15 Oklahoma State 33-7 earlier this year) and Marshall (which beat Virginia Tech).
They next face UConn this week (a game in which JMU is heavily favored) at home for a chance to move to 10-0. They’ll then finish the season against Sun Belt rivals and former FCS-to-FBS teams Appalachian State and Coastal Carolina.
The timing of the letter also certainly couldn’t have come at a better time. JMU’s men’s basketball team on Monday night defeated No. 4 Michigan State on the road to start the season.