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Virginia Attorney General hires law firm to represent James Madison in bowl eligibility dispute

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Virginia Attorney General has hired a law firm to represent James Madison University regarding the NCAA’s decision Wednesday night not to grant the Dukes a waiver from a rule that prevents the unbeaten No. 18 football team from an automatic bowl berth.

In a three-page letter, the law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth LLC argues for James Madison’s inclusion in bowl consideration based on its 10-0 record, No. 18 national ranking and unprecedented success in its two-year process reclassifying from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Bowl Subdivision, the game’s top tier.

“We fully hope and expect that the various Committees and the NCAA as a whole will do the right thing and allow JMU to compete in whatever bowl game its performance warrants,” the letter says. Failing that, “JMU is prepared to promptly file a lawsuit in the Western District of Virginia asserting that the bowl ban violates the antitrust and, potentially, other laws.”

In a statement, Attorney General Jason Miyares said the NCAA's denial of a waiver “demonstrates yet again abject failures to act in the best interest of the nation's student-athletes. The NCAA has proven it is a broken institution which continues to make arbitrary and capricious decisions that are anti-competitive and have a profoundly negative impact on student-athletes, JMU, the Commonwealth of Virginia, collegiate football and athletes as a whole."

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Without a satisfactory resolution, Miyares said, "I am prepared to expose the NCAA’s unlawful conduct and seek justice for James Madison University through litigation, provided the University authorize me to do so.”

In a statement Wednesday night from the Division I Board of Directors Administrative Committee, the committee said to two-year requirement is to allow programs moving up to ensure they have a sustainable plan beyond the playing field, such as infrastructure in place, adequate scholarship funding and medical and mental health resources.

“Division I members continually assess transition requirements, and the board continues to believe that if Division I members do not think the requirements are appropriate, those concerns should be addressed through rules changes rather than waiver requests,” the statement said.

The committee also noted that James Madison and Jacksonville State, whose waiver request was also denied, might still have access to bowl games if there are not enough teams to meet the six-wins requirement to fill all slots.