James Madison moving to FBS, joining Sun Belt

James Madison has officially accepted an invitation to join the the Sun Belt Conference, it was announced Saturday.

The Dukes, an FCS powerhouse who won the national title in 2016 and has made two title-game appearances since, will begin a two-year transition to the FBS after this season and will join the Sun Belt no later than July 1, 2023.

“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.”

James Madison’s addition brings the number of Sun Belt members to 16, with the Dukes joining Appalachian State, Little Rock, Arkansas State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Louisiana, ULM, South Alabama, UTA, Texas State and Troy, along with new members Southern Miss, Old Dominion and Marshall, which joined the Sun Belt last week.

James Madison, previously a member of the Colonial Athletic Conference, will compete in the Sun Belt in all sports. The Dukes participate in 18 varsity sports.

“As James Madison University prepares and anticipates to earn additional national recognition for our academic programs and excellence, admission into the Sun Belt Conference is a natural and complementary next step for our institution,” said JMU president Jonathan Alger. “We are thrilled to have received and accepted an invitation into this conference, with a new and visionary opportunity for high-level competition within the eastern region. We have always sought to do things the right way as a university for our students, faculty and staff, student-athletes and coaches and the time is right for JMU to move up to the highest level in D-1 athletics and enter the Sun Belt! This is an exciting and historic moment of transition for JMU, and I greatly appreciate the teamwork and diligence of so many people behind the scenes that have enabled us to reach this important milestone.”

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