CAA officially suspends football season, JMU still planning to play in the fall

Published: Jul. 17, 2020 at 1:20 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The Colonial Athletic Association has officially suspended the 2020 fall football season. The conference made the announcement Friday afternoon.

CAA Statement on 2020 Football Season

“CAA Football announced today that the Conference’s Board of Directors has voted to suspend conference competition in the Fall of 2020 due to continuing concerns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The conference expressed a strong commitment to exploring the possibility of conducting a football season during the Spring of 2021, and will continue to analyze this scenario as more information becomes available and conditions continue to evolve.

In expressing an understanding of the uniqueness of the Conference’s composition (12 institutions that compete in other sports in four Division I Conferences), the geographical expansion of the Conference membership and the complexity of an ever-changing situation, the Conference’s Board of Directors also affirmed that the Conference’s policies would permit member institutions the ability to explore the option of pursuing playing an independent football schedule in the Fall of 2020.

“I commend the Board of Directors for their forward thinking and open-mindedness when dealing with the uncertain and complex moment that we find ourselves in,” said CAA Commissioner Joe D’Antonio. “Each of our institutions is making the best decisions for its campus community, based on a totality of the circumstances analysis.”

For the 2020-21 academic year, institutions will have the ability to manage practice activities for its football student-athletes in a manner that best meets institutional, federal, state and local guidelines, as well as NCAA Rules.”

While the CAA has suspended the upcoming football season, James Madison University is still planning to play a football schedule in the fall. Thursday night sources confirmed to WHSV that the Dukes intend to play football this fall if the FCS Playoffs remain as scheduled.

In accordance with the CAA’s announcement Friday, JMU Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne released the following statement, saying the Dukes are pursuing an alternative schedule for football this fall. In a conference call with reporters Friday afternoon, Bourne said JMU has had discussions with both FBS and FCS programs about scheduling games in the fall of 2020.

The release also states “current planning for the year consists of football in the Fall, basketball in the winter aligning with CAA start dates and all remaining Fall sports to occur within the NCAA’s championship season timeline.”

Statement from James Madison University Athletics

“Although the Colonial Athletic Association announced on Friday the suspension of Fall football competition as a conference, James Madison remains committed to an open exploration of various options for its competitive seasons for all sports in keeping with evolving guidance on health and public safety.

The CAA issued separate statements of 1) the suspension of Fall 2020 CAA football with the possible exploration of a spring 2021 season and 2) a still uncertain path for other CAA sports among the 10 all-sport member institutions while recognizing the myriad of factors impacting a diverse and widespread conference. No decision has been made at this time regarding changes to the start of Fall sports or men’s and women’s basketball competition from a conference standpoint.

“The most important takeaway for our JMU constituency is that we are committed to exploring all of our options to provide a championship experience for all of our programs, in keeping with our strong focus on the health and safety of all of our student-athletes and other members of the JMU community. That includes football as well as other Fall sports,” Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne said. “While other institutions are facing different timelines and circumstances in making decisions, we are striving to get as much information as possible about the national landscape and public health considerations before making final determinations. We believe that we have a responsibility to explore all of the possible options at this point in time. As of now, the FCS Championship schedule has not been changed. Accordingly, while the majority of CAA institutions have decided not to continue with Fall football, we are currently looking at how to rebuild a schedule for the Fall season while following health and safety protocols and guidance. We will continue to follow medical guidance and recommendations for our region and university, and to monitor the decisions of the NCAA and CAA with regard to championship timeframes.”

JMU Athletics continues to stress flexibility in an uncertain environment. Current planning for the year consists of football in the Fall, basketball in the winter aligning with CAA start dates and all remaining Fall sports to occur within the NCAA’s championship season timeline. JMU Athletics is committed to providing competitive opportunities in 2020-21 for all 18 sport programs to the extent it is deemed safely possible and even if it requires a potentially non-traditional timeline.

A separate communication will be forthcoming directly to ticket purchasers regarding season tickets and donations.”

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