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Undefeated James Madison told it can't play in a bowl game

The NCAA denied waiver appeals from James Madison and Jacksonville State as the two schools hoped their football teams could play in a bowl game.
Undefeated James Madison told it can't play in a bowl game
Posted at 1:24 PM, Nov 16, 2023

Despite having a 10-0 record, James Madison University's football team was denied a waiver by the NCAA that would have allowed the undefeated JMU squad a shot at a bowl game. 

Had the NCAA allowed the waiver, James Madison potentially could have made their first-ever bowl appearance in one of the vaunted New Year's Six bowl games, reserved for 12 of the top teams in the nation. The College Football Playoff reserves one slot a year for the team with the best ranking from a non-power conference. 

Jacksonville State also had its waiver denied. 

Both schools were hoping to get the NCAA to lift a long-standing policy that prohibits teams that change divisions to participate in the postseason for two years. James Madison joined the Football Bowl Subdivision's Sun Belt Conference in 2022. JMU won at least one Football Championship Subdivision playoff game each of its final six years in the subdivision. 

James Madison's athletics department said it was "obviously disappointed by the decision." 

"We're saddened for our university community and, in particular, we're devastated for our football program, the coaches and student athletes who have orchestrated an amazing season and earned the opportunity," the department said. 

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The NCAA's announcement comes days before James Madison is set to welcome ESPN College Gameday to its campus ahead of its matchup against Appalachian State. 

Jacksonville State is also in the midst of a good season, starting off its first year in FBS at 7-3 with its final games of the year coming this Saturday against Louisiana Tech and next week versus New Mexico State. Had Jacksonville State had its waiver approved, it almost assuredly would have been invited to one of the 41 bowls this season. 

There remains some hope the schools could enter a bowl game. The NCAA requires teams to win at least half of their games to be eligible; it is possible that there won't be enough bowl eligible teams, which would then open the door for one or both of the two programs to accept a bowl invite.

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