Virginia AG threatens legal action on behalf of the James Madison football team

A law firm employed by Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares on Wednesday sent a demand letter to the NCAA, obtained by ESPN, threatening legal action if “disqualification of James Madison from bowl consideration in 2023” is not reversed.

The letter was sent ahead of the NCAA’s expected decision Wednesday night to deny James Madison a waiver approval after the season. A response is requested by noon on Friday.

The Dukes are 10-0 and ranked No. 18 in the latest AP Top 25 poll. They are not yet included in the College Football Playoff rankings because they are not eligible for the postseason.

“We stand ready to act on JMU’s behalf in the unfortunate circumstance that JMU’s request for relief was not granted in a timely manner,” the letter obtained by ESPN on Thursday said. “Specifically, JMU is prepared to immediately file a lawsuit in the Western District of Virginia to assert that the pot ban violates antitrust laws, and possibly other laws.”

The NCAA’s decision on Wednesday effectively ended JMU’s chances of playing in a New Year’s Six bowl game, as the Dukes could not be conference champions and therefore would not qualify. There is a possibility that JMU could play in a lower-tier bowl, where it could fill a spot if there are not enough bowl-eligible teams.

“The facts here have not changed with respect to JMU,” college football executive Bill Hancock said Wednesday night. “The committee takes into consideration all teams eligible to play in the postseason, and that’s where things stand.”

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The state Attorney General’s Office was disappointed with the decision and is exploring legal options, Miyares’ office announced Wednesday night.

In a statement to ESPN on Thursday, Miyares called the NCAA’s decision “extremely disappointing.”

“[The NCAA] “It makes clear that, once again, they are ignoring the best interests of our nation’s student-athletes,” Miyares’ statement said. “The NCAA has made an arbitrary and capricious decision that has an anti-competitive and extremely negative impact on student-athletes, JMU, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and collegiate football as a whole.”

Miyares also pointed to the potential economic benefit of the school, which is a public university.

“This injustice goes beyond athletics, and should not be allowed to stand,” Miyares said. “After repeated warnings to the NCAA, they still refuse to do what is right. Therefore, I am willing to expose the NCAA’s illegal conduct and seek justice for James Madison University through litigation, provided the university gives me permission to do so.”

The letter sent to the NCAA states that the potential lawsuit would prove “an unreasonable restraint of trade in the marketplace” and cites the Sherman Act and Virginia antitrust law. He calls banning teams from the postseason during NCAA turnover “unnecessary” from a “practical and legal perspective.”

JMU is in the second year of the transition from the FCS to the FBS and in its second season of full Sun Belt competition in football. If there is no rule change, the school will be eligible for postseason play next year.

The letter lays the foundation for an antitrust lawsuit.

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“Whether analyzed under a ‘quick glance’ or a full rule of reasoning, the end result is likely to be the same: the rule is anti-competitive, preventing the most qualified teams from competing in market bowl matches without any ‘pro-competitive justification,’” the letter said. To support her.”

On Wednesday, after four NCAA committees met and ultimately denied postseason waivers to JMU and two other schools, the NCAA issued a statement.

“The requirements for members transitioning to the FBS are based on factors beyond athletic performance,” the NCAA Board of Regents’ Administrative Committee said in a statement. “It is intended to ensure that schools properly assess their long-term sustainability in the subdivision.”

The NCAA added that if Division I members do not believe transfer requirements are appropriate, concerns should be addressed through rule changes rather than waiver requests.

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