As the major conference realignment has begun, there has been a seismic shift in the Sun Belt Conference, home of the Ragin’ Cajuns. The addition of four new schools was announced in December, with hopes that each new school would become eligible in 2023. However, recently, James Madison University announced they will be competing in all major sports in the 2022-23 season.
James Madison is one of the most competitive Football Championship Subdivision schools in the country, routinely competing for a national title in football. Adding them into the fold gives the Cajuns some serious competition in not only football, but all sports.
After winning the FCS national title in 2016 on the gridiron and reaching
the championship game two more times since then, they’ll begin their adjustment instantly. Their football program is exceptional, consistently being at the
top of the totem pole, but the addition of their other sports is something worth noting.
Competing in the Colonial Athletic Conference, it’s sure to be a tough adjustment for them at first, but time will tell as they begin gaining more notoriety with the bigger programs.
“We look forward to JMU competing as a full member of the Sun Belt Conference in the Fall of 2022,” Sun Belt commissioner Keith Gill said during their introductory press conference. “I want
to thank JMU President Jonathan Alger and Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne for positioning themselves so well to allow for such a quick transition. None of this could be possible without tremendous
leadership and preparation. I’d also like to thank our current member institution presidents and athletic directors for helping make this transition for JMU take place a year ahead of schedule. We certainly appreciate the collaborative process.”
The Dukes will compete in the Sun Belt in volleyball, cross country, women’s soccer, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, men’s golf, women’s golf, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, track & field, softball and baseball beginning this fall. As an adjustment period begins in their first year in the conference, James Madison will not be eligible to compete for a Sun Belt Conference title until 2023.
“JMU is ecstatic to be joining the Sun Belt Conference, and it’s a win-win for everyone involved that this transition will take place this July,” Bourne said during the introductory press conference. “Each of our sports will be a great fit for the Sun Belt and bring value to the conference while also being positioned to be successful from day one. I’d like to thank Keith Gill, the rest of the Sun Belt staff, and the member institution presidents and athletic directors for their hard work to make this happen.”
The Dukes will become an official member of the conference come July 1, 2022, expanding the conference to 11 teams for the 2022-23 season. It’s an exciting time to be a member of the Sun Belt Conference. Becoming one of the most competitive non-Power Five conferences, the Ragin’ Cajuns have played a major factor in their success both in football and many other sports. Now adding a school so rich in history, athletically, this will surely boost the overall strength of the conference as a whole.