Even if the Colonial Athletic Association doesn’t play football this fall, James Madison will try.
Sources Thursday told the Daily News-Record while the league is expected on Friday to announce it won’t hold conference competition this fall, its members are free to pursue a schedule outside CAA play if they wish.
JMU, according to sources, is one CAA program still planning on playing fall football this year as long as the NCAA holds FCS postseason play. The Dukes have reached three FCS national championship games in the last four years, finishing as the runner up to North Dakota State last year and in 2017, and winning the national title over Youngstown State in 2016.
Sources said most CAA programs will elect not to play this fall, but JMU is intending to and is already in the process of rebuilding its schedule. If other CAA teams decide to try to play like JMU is, the Dukes can schedule league members as an independent, non-conference game as no conference standings will be kept.
Three FCS conferences – the Ivy League, Patriot League and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference – have canceled its seasons already. And at the FBS level, the Big Ten and Pac-12 have opted to play a conference-only schedule.
To this point, JMU’s non-conference schedule is intact with Southern Conference member Chattanooga (Sept. 12) and Northeast Conference member Merrimack (Nov. 21) slated to visit Bridgeforth Stadium. The Dukes also have a date with FBS North Carolina scheduled for Sept. 19 and that trip to Chapel Hill, N.C., would net JMU $500,000.
JMU players returned to campus last week and initial coronavirus testing showed of the 97 tests administered to players and staff members, only one person tested positive for the virus. That person was asymptomatic.
The Dukes were slated to begin CAA play at home with Delaware on Sept. 5. JMU also had conference games scheduled with Albany, William & Mary, Towson, Villanova, Maine, Elon and Richmond.