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Fewer games expected for JMU sports teams in 2020-2021

Published: Oct. 7, 2020 at 4:19 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Expect to see sports teams at James Madison University taking the field less often during the 2020-2021 academic year.

“One thing that we are going to see impacted significantly this year is the number of competitions that teams will be playing and those numbers aren’t going to be down just a little bit, they are going to be down a lot," said JMU Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne in a recent Zoom interview with reporters.

Bourne’s comments come as JMU launches the “Dukes Unite” fundraising campaign to help make up for a budget shortfall of more than $5 million as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Athletics department budget challenges are not unique to JMU. Many schools around the country are dealing with financial challenges as a result of the pandemic, with some colleges and universities eliminating entire sports programs, something Bourne has said multiple times JMU is committed to avoiding.

In an effort to save money and help cut down on costs, teams at JMU will be playing less games when the Dukes return to competition. For example, the football program will be able to play a maximum of eight regular-season games in the spring of 2021 compared to a normal fall schedule that would usually feature 11-12 games before the postseason. Per NCAA rules, the JMU men’s and women’s basketball programs will be able to play a maximum of 27 regular-season games in 2020-2021. Both programs played 29 regular-season games in 2019-2020. Spring sports teams, who saw their 2020 season shut down early, will also see a reduction in contests. For example, the baseball program at JMU is more likely to take the field between 30-45 times in 2021 compared to the normal amount of 56 regular-season games the NCAA permits.

“Looking at it, I don’t think we have much choice but to see a reduction," said Bourne. "And I think it will be a significant reduction. I’m not sure for those sports it will all be to the minimums, the new NCAA minimums that have been set, but it will be a significant reduction.”

Competition at JMU and throughout the Colonial Athletic Association is currently suspended but the college basketball season is scheduled to start November 25.

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