Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications
By Bennett Conlin
The CAA won’t allow JMU to compete in any CAA postseason events once the Dukes announce their impending move to the Sun Belt, according to a report from The Richmond Times-Dispatch. With the announcement expected soon, JMU will be banned from participating in and hosting CAA Tournaments later this year.
The full report is worth a read.
What’s the main takeaway?
JMU loses its chance to earn automatic bids into the NCAA Tournament. That affects just about every JMU program.
The Dukes need to earn at-large berths into the NCAA Tournament now. That makes the road to the NCAA Tournament exponentially harder for teams like women’s golf, women’s tennis, men’s and women’s basketball and swimming and diving. All were CAA title contenders/favorites.
It essentially punishes current student-athletes for JMU’s decision to move to the Sun Belt. The decision to leave is also a no-brainer, as it will boost the exposure and competition for just about every JMU athletic program.
Instead of the CAA appreciating JMU’s success, which helps keep the CAA somewhat relevant, the league decided to punish the Dukes for their decision to leave. Student-athletes will almost certainly miss the NCAA Tournament as a result. Their student-athlete experience is being hindered by what feels like a petty move by the conference.
A ridiculous bylaw allows the CAA to block teams from competing in conference championships. We get the logic, but the Dukes have done a lot to help prop up the conference in recent years, from a lacrosse national title to football success to a softball run through the Women’s College World Series.
Commissioner Joe D’Antonio’s response to the league’s decision?
“I’ll be honest,” D’Antonio told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “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.”
Understandably, JMU’s athletes are upset.
One can only hope the CAA reverses course on the decision due to backlash.