JMU Athletics Department sees big changes as they move into the Sun Belt Conference

Published: Aug. 19, 2022 at 6:50 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Students on the campus of James Madison University began moving into their dorms on Friday, and the start of a new school year means new projects and goals for the athletics department.

The athletics department has been working hard to make upgrades to sports facilities and complexes to make them Sun Belt-ready.

Athletic Director Jeff Bourne said Sentara Park’s upgrades are just about finished. New locker rooms and a new façade design have been added.

Renovations are ongoing at the Convocation Center with plans to move many of the sports into that building, and just a few weeks ago construction started to expand the softball stadium at Veterans Memorial Park. This expansion will give the softball stadium over 800 new seats according to Bourne. There are also new locker rooms and office spaces going in.

”Growth of facilities is really the backbone of an athletic program, and it really makes life better for our student-athletes day in and day out. It makes it easier for the coaches to recruit, and we’re really blessed to have three major projects right now underway,” Bourne said.

However, all of these upgrades wouldn’t be possible without the support of JMU donors.

”Our fundraising reached the number of $4,041,000 for one year that really eclipses last year by over a million dollars,” Bourne said. “The other exciting thing is that the number of our donors is up.”

Bourne said he feels like the increased donors are symbolic of JMU’s move to the Sun Belt conference.

“The excitement, we feel it every day... we feel it with our fans, we feel it with our staff, and we see it in the student-athletes,” Bourne said. “The move to the Sun Belt’s been a remarkable change for us, and I think it’s one that will be marked in history as one of the more prominent things that’s happened in our athletic program.”

Bourne said the athletics department is proud to announce their ESPN+ affiliation.

“We have a deep and rich background with ESPN,” Bourne said. “We’re excited about what that means for our constituency base to be able to stream and watch those games.”