Miyares hints lawsuit against NCAA for JMU bowl eligibility could come Monday

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares speaks with WHSV in an exclusive sit-down interview
Published: Nov. 19, 2023 at 4:39 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - James Madison was the center of the college football world this weekend thanks to ESPN’s College GameDay hosting its highly popular show in front Wilson Hall.

While JMU has garnered national attention for their 10-1 season, they’ve also drawn national attention for the, what if. Because of NCAA FBS transition rules, the Dukes are unable to compete in a bowl game this season, unless there’s not enough schools that win at least six games to fill all the bowl spots.

JMU’s bowl status has caught the attention of Virginia’s Attorney General Jason Miyares, who’s a JMU graduate. Miyares, who was in Harrisonburg this weekend for the Dukes home game against Appalachian State, sat down for an exclusive sit-down interview with WHSV and the Daily-News Record. Miyares hinted his team is in the final stages of filing a lawsuit against the NCAA , that could come as soon as Monday.

“It’s plain to me that the NCAA is acting in an anti-competitive nature, which is the whole reason we have the Sherman Antitrust Act in the United States. It’s to prevent monopolies and prevent entities that act in an anticompetitive nature. That is exactly what they’re doing,” said Miyares. “But for this rule, JMU would be able to play for a championship and play in a potential New Year’s Six bowl game.”

In early October, Miyares wrote a letter to NCAA President Charlie Baker, asking for the organization to reconsider JMU’s bowl status. JMU is in the second year of a transition from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Two weeks later after Miyares’ letter, Baker responded and denied the request.

On Nov. 7, JMU wrote another letter to the NCAA, asking the organization to reconsider it’s decision. A week later on Nov. 15, the NCAA rejected JMU’s request.

The day after the NCAA’s decision, a law firm representing the Attorney General, wrote a letter to the NCAA threatening legal action if their decision wasn’t reversed. The letter set a Friday deadline at noon.

“I don’t like to see bullies. What the NCAA is doing is being a bully,” said Miyares. “They’ve clearly been able to change their rules for the transfer rule, they clearly changed it for the NIL rule as well. The NCAA has shown past flexibility but right now what they’re acting like is a level of disdain for bullying for JMU.”

Miyares believes his team has a strong case. He indicates JMU played a full FBS schedule during its first year transitioning. He points out JMU’s ineligibility to compete for a Sun Belt Conference championship, meaning they can’t be considered for a New Year’s Six bowl game. A New Year’s Six bowl game would bring in millions of dollars in revenue to the university.

“I think if you’re seeking injunctive relief, you have to show that you’re about to suffer reputable harm,” said Miyares. “It’s clear to me the NCAA’s anti-competitive decisions are preventing JMU from having a once in a generation, once in a lifetime opportunity that would create a reputable harm to this school.”

Miyares acknowledges the biggest obstacle is time. It’s unclear. if indeed a lawsuit is filed, if the case’s hearing would take place before Thanksgiving when the courts close. It’s also unknown if the lawsuit would have an impact on the current season.

However, Miyares continues it make it clear he’ll continue to fight for JMU’s cause.

“I am utterly stunned. Stunned that the NCAA is so tone-deaf that they’d rather take, I think, one of the worst PR disasters in the history of that organization to basically continue to act like a bully. It makes no sense whatsoever,” said Miyares. “It shows why the NCAA is such a disliked organization.”