JMU Athletics At Crossroads After Matthews

By: Daren Stoltzfus Email
By: Daren Stoltzfus Email

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- It's Day 2 without Mickey Matthews, meaning the news has finally started to sink in.

After 15 years of stability, Matthews is no longer a Duke and Madison is now without a head football coach. How the Dukes handle hiring a new head coach, could determine the future of the program for decades to come.

If all goes well, Bourne hopes to name a new head coach sooner, rather than later.

"Obviously this is a process we want to get right, and we are willing to take our time with it," said Bourne. "I don't have a set due date, but there is value in moving quickly."

Not only are the Dukes searching for a new football coach, but the university brass are also pondering their conference affiliation; James Madison University Athletics is at a crossroads.

JMU is currently a full-sports member of the Colonial Athletic Association, an Football Championship Subdivision affiliate. The school though, is exploring a possible move to a Football Bowl Subdivision conference. Sources have indicated a move would be to either the Mid-American Conference or Conference-USA.

Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne says the school currently does not have an invitation to an FBS conference, something required by the NCAA before reclassifying.

"There's not a sealed envelope over in this desk drawer, and there's not an imminent invitation on the way," said Bourne."It's certainly something we'd look at if it came along."

When asked of how that decision affects the former and future football coaches at JMU, Bourne noted the following:

"Those core fundamentals are the same thing that we would look for under either scenario. Now I have to say, we're looking for an FCS coach right now," said Bourne. "At this juncture, the important thing is to go out there and make sure we're hiring the best coach with the best credentials that we can find, and I am thoroughly convinced that we are going to do just that."

Madison's main objective is finding the best fit for the school as a whole. According to Bourne, this is a university-wide decision, from an academic fit, to an all-sports fit. As far as joining a conference just for football, or in a football only capacity, that is not on the university's agenda.

"We want to be under one halo, we want all of our sports under one conference," said Bourne. "I think from a synergy standpoint, longevity and continuity, that's critically important. That's part of why we're in the Colonial right now."

For Bourne right now, the primary objective is finding a football coach to lead the Dukes. Whether Madison stays at the FCS level or moves on, Bourne says the head coach they hire will be outfitted for success at any level.

"The core qualities we're looking for in a coach are core qualities I'd look for in any coach," said Bourne. "Where is their focus? Where is their work ethics, how do they go about leadership? What do they believe in? Those core fundamentals under either scenario."

But with a smile, Bourne did add one more quip.

"I do have to say, we're looking for an FCS coach right now," said Bourne.


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