Once again, the NCAA is playing the villain for denying an appeal from undefeated James Madison University seeking to overturn its postseason ineligibility status.
Now, it appears that the Virginia attorney general is standing up for his state's best college football team and helping it fight back.
Virginia's attorney general had a demand letter, obtained by ESPN, sent to the NCAA that threatens legal action if James Madison's "exclusion from bowl consideration" isn't reversed.
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) November 16, 2023
After years of high-level performance at the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level of Division I football, James Madison University finally made the jump to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) as it joined the Sun Belt Conference. Last year, their first as an FBS squad, the Dukes went 8-3 while playing 10 other FBS schools, which included opponents being able to count games against JMU as FBS-level games when determining their own bowl eligibility.
The NCAA has established a two-year "transition period" for all teams stepping up to the FBS level, meaning they cannot compete in bowls during that period. Last year, JMU requested a waiver, declaring that the 2022 season was year two of that period — but the waiver was denied. The team has been ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll both seasons they've played in the Sun Belt, and it is currently one of just six undefeated FBS teams. However, it is not ranked in the College Football Playoff poll due to its ineligibility.
JMU once again asked the NCAA if it could participate in this year's postseason, and its plea was once again denied. This means that the undefeated Dukes won't be allowed to compete in and win the Sun Belt championship, or play in a bowl of any sort. Were they eligible, there's a good chance they would finish as the top-ranked Group of Five champ, which would earn them a spot in a New Year's Six bowl — so they're missing out on some major opportunities as of now.
So, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares reportedly hired a law firm that sent a letter Wednesday to the NCAA threatening legal action if it continues to exclude the Dukes from bowl eligibility.
We'll have to see if the action taken by Virginia's attorney general will be enough to sway the NCAA or if the Dukes will have to wait another year to participate in the postseason. As with so many NCAA rules, it's hard to understand why this one exists, but for now we'll just have to wait and hope to see a good decision be made — or, if necessary, forced.
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