James Madison University joins Sun Belt Conference

JMU will join the Sun Belt Conference no later than July 1, 2023


It’s a big day for JMU athletics.

On Saturday, James Madison University officially accepted the invitation to join the Sun Belt Conference.

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The announcement comes after the James Madison University Board of Visitors approved JMU’s move up from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision on Friday.

“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.”

JMU is the latest addition to the league, bringing the number of Sun Belt members to 16.

The Dukes will join the current members, which include:

  • App State
  • Little Rock
  • Arkansas State
  • Coastal Carolina
  • Georgia Southern
  • Georgia State
  • Louisiana
  • ULM
  • South Alabama
  • UTA
  • Texas State
  • Troy
  • Southern Miss
  • Old Dominion
  • Marshall

With the move, JMU Athletics hopes to continue being successful as it builds up its athletes. According to JMU, in the last decade, the Dukes have built one of the strongest mid-major athletics departments in the country.

Within the last six years, we’ve seen JMU win the 2018 NCAA Championship in women’s lacrosse, reach the semifinals of the 2021 Women’s College World Series and the 2018 national quarterfinals in men’s soccer.

The Dukes have also won four NCAA national championships, including two in FCS football in 2004 and 2016, one in field hockey in 1994 and one in women’s lacrosse in 2018.

JMU will join the Sun Belt Conference no later than July 1, 2023.

“The Sun Belt Conference presents the right opportunity at the right time for James Madison Athletics,” JMU Athletics Director Jeff Bourne said. “Our department has achieved at a tremendously high level over the last seven years and even further throughout our entire history. We have demonstrated an increased ability to succeed at the national level, and this move to the Sun Belt further enhances that to an even greater degree as we move forward. JMU is committed to providing the best student-athlete experience in the nation, and this move ensures that our focus resides on our student-athletes and balancing their competitive and off-the-field success.”

About the Author

Jazmine Otey joined the 10 News team in February 2021.

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