The James Madison Dukes have been eyeing litigation as they sought approval to participate in an FBS bowl game. As one of the top-ranked teams in the country, boasting an undefeated record, the Dukes submitted a waiver along with Jacksonville State and Tarleton State for bowl eligibility. The NCAA denied the waiver requests.
But why can’t James Madison play in a bowl game? We dive into the details.
Why James Madison Can’t Play in a Bowl Game
The Dukes should be in the mix for the College Football Playoff rankings and fighting for a New Year’s Six bid. However, because the NCAA denied their waiver request for bowl eligibility, the only way the Dukes and Jacksonville State can play in a postseason game is if there aren’t enough .500 teams.
Despite entering Week 12 with a 10-0 record and ranked No. 18 in the AP Top 25 poll, JMU is in its second year of this transition and is in its first season of Sun Belt competition. However, according to the NCAA bylaws, teams who move up from the FCS to the FBS must wait for two years before being eligible to participate in a bowl game.
If there’s no change in the rule, the school will be eligible for postseason play next year.
JMU has threatened legal action after the NCAA’s decision to deny the waiver, per Pete Thamel of ESPN. The school would argue that the bowl ban violates antitrust laws and has a profound negative impact on the school and all related stakeholders.
The NCAA released a statement along with its denial of their waiver request, saying, “Requirements for members transitioning into FBS are based on factors beyond athletics performance. They are intended to ensure schools are properly evaluating their long-term sustainability in the subdivision.”
The NCAA also said that Division I members should address concerns about transition requirements through rule changes instead of waiver requests.