James Madison Athletics Caught In Conference Re-Alignment Crosshairs | GMTM

James Madison Athletics Caught In Conference Re-Alignment Crosshairs

ByAndrew Pistone

Published on Tue Nov 23 2021

|

2 min read

James Madison Athletics Caught In Conference Re-Alignment Crosshairs

As conference realignment continues to occur at an increased rate in college sports, fans are becoming increasingly familiar with the positives and drawbacks. Schools tend to make more money, gain more exposure, and compete at a higher level of athletics, generally speaking. However, these moves also slowly destroy the fabric of longstanding rivalries, relationships and traditions developed over the course of decades.

James Madison University athletics is the latest in a long line of schools who are moving to a new conference. They are joining the Sun Belt Conference, and leaving the Colonial Athletic Association(CAA) behind. There’s only one problem; the CAA isn’t taking too kindly to the Dukes’ move.

While it isn’t uncommon for conference’s who are being broken up with to throw stones, the CAA is taking it to a different level. They have decided to ban James Madison athletics from competing in conference championships this season, denying teams the right to secure possibly one last CAA crown.

There are a couple of levels to this type of response from the CAA. First of all, it sounds like the conference wants to stymie ideas of any other schools who might be thinking of jumping ship. Apparently, the CAA has invoked this clause before to schools that have departed the conference, such as Old Dominion, George Mason and East Carolina. Because this precedent was set, James Madison had to have known this would happen. But clearly, the draconian rule has not stopped universities from wondering whether the grass was greener on the other side.

Conference commissioner Joe Dantonio has stated that he was not in a position to prevent this from happening.

“I’ll be honest. It’s not my job to determine whether it makes sense or doesn’t make sense. It’s my job to make sure the bylaws are enforced the way they’re written,” he said. Via Sportingnews.com

However, for the student-athletes and coaches, this announcement was a tough pill to swallow. Not being able to compete at the highest level in any year would be difficult. But coupled with the pandemic ravaged season of a year ago, this adds additional insult to proverbial injury.

“For the punishment to fall on the athletes is just so hard. After a year of COVID, to have this, it’s indescribable. I keep thinking it’s like a dream and I’m going to wake up,” said James Madison volleyball coach Lauren Steinbrecher. Via SI.com

Reaction to enforcement of this clause has been harsh, and it would appear that this bylaw should be removed from the conference’s set of regulations. Alternatives could replace it in ways that would financially deter a school from wanting to leave, but surprising teams towards the end of their season in this manner is unfortunate.

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