Jun 14 / Todd

What We Want to Know About the 1M Dollar CAA Exit Fee

On the exit fee, here are my thoughts.

 Here are the questions I want answered before fully ranting.  I feel bad jumping on RTCCAA (Reporters that Cover the CAA), but sometimes I wonder whether they’re thinking at all or if they’re just under orders from their mostly small-town (or small-credibility in the case of the RTD) papers to report the dumbed-down version of things.  For those that don’t know, the CAA President’s voted this week to raise the exit fee for leaving the conference to one million dollars even, presumably to dissuade further defections.  Most hardcore fans clearly see this as an absolute signal that we are stuck in the low-rent district that is the CAA (and rapidly becoming a ghetto if rumors of VMI, Hampton, and Coastal are to be believed though we don’t buy into that uninformed RTD trash as stated above).
1) Who voted on behalf of JMU?  Was it Rose during his last week as Prez or Alger or a proxy for one of them?
2) How did JMU vote?  If we were an overruled Nay, that would say as much or more than the vote.  This answer alone probably says more about what the JMU Admin itself actually thinks of the Dukes chances of moving up regardless of everything else.
3) I’ve heard numerous times that the CAA Football Conference has separate bylaws from the CAA Conference.  Presumably this applies to things like entrance and exit fees as well, since obviously there are current and possibly future football-only members.  Does this mean a team, for example, I don’t know, JMU!, could leave in football alone if such an opportunity presented itself (i.e. a new FCS-to-FBS conference) without paying the full freight on the exit fee?
4) Finally, it would be nice to hear a little more about what how the NBC Sports Network meetings went a few weeks back.  If they’re willing to honor the contract despite the high-profile defections, or even discuss increasing the deal, that certainly eases some of the pain of staying in a CAA that at least currently, appears to be much weaker than a few months ago.
While there is certainly a set of answers to these questions that would leave me madder than an Alpha Phi with an empty bank account at an Anything for Money party, there also seems to be more to this decision than simply the 1M.  1M is a big number, but the gamble any school makes on a move to FBS is so much larger than that figure that down the road, this won’t be the make-or-break aspect of the decision. That said, it doesn’t look good, not good at all, especially if JMU voted for this.
Lastly, WHY IN THE NAME OF EVERYTHING HOLY IS THE DECISION TO STAND BY THE CAA’S OWN RULES AND KICK ODU’S UNGRATEFUL, DISGUSTING ASS OUT OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP PICTURE NEXT YEAR STILL UNRESOLVED?!?! This is a no-brainer.  I don’t really give a crap about their now-homeless, non-revenue sports that CUSA doesn’t have staying or going in the CAA (though it seems a dangerous precedent to allow them to make their bed and not have to lay in it and it certainly could create issues in the future when ODU could conceivably have far greater athletics revenue at their disposal than other CAA schools).  In the words of the brilliant Walter Czobcek, “there are rules here, doesn’t anybody give a shit about the rules?!”


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  1. Ben Griffn / Jun 15 2012

    Per Selig, Bourne stated that JMU voted in favor of raising the exit fee.

  2. Dukie95 / Jun 15 2012

    This was all sports except football (which really means basketball). We could theoretically do a football-only move without paying the $1M.

    There are no affiliate football members; the football members are all full members of the football conference, any changes in exit fees or other bylaws would have to be voted on by all the members. I believe the football conference has its own meetings.

  3. SunChase / Jun 15 2012

    “The CAA announced Wednesday that it has raised its exit fee from $250,000 to $1 million, and athletic director Jeff Bourne said James Madison was among the schools voting in favor of the change – the most noteworthy news to come from the league’s presidents meetings, which took place Tuesday in Washington.”

    “JMU’s vote to raise the exit fee is an indication that the administration is not eager to make a leap to Division I-A football in the near future, which was the impetus behind ODU’s move to Conference USA. Madison had overtures from the Mid-American Conference and Western Athletic Conference, but school officials have expressed little enthusiasm for those options, instead reaffirming their commitment to the I-AA Colonial.”

    “Both of those schools have asked that their teams be allowed to compete in postseason tournaments, saying it’s not fair to the athletes to deny them the opportunity. According to a press release from the CAA, presidents “engaged in a lengthy discussion and reached a conclusion” on the topic but “several points still need additional clarification before the decision will be announced.” That announcement is expected to be made some time this week.”

    All three segments are from Thursday’s top sports story in the DNR. Credit to Selig.

  4. DukeFan91 / Jun 15 2012

    Waiter, can I have the check please?

    The news that we voted FOR the increase (now that the two prize horses have left the barn) is bad enough. Couple that with the report that ODU asked us and UD to take a joint proposal to CUSA to form an eastern bloc (ECU, Marshall, UD, JMU, ODU, Charlotte), and that we turned them down. It is impossible to fathom a better FBS conference division to be in at this point (in terms of competition, travel, etc). We dismissed it out of hand.

    Time for me to (reluctantly) admit defeat and move on. Sorry, but I’m not setting aside Saturday afternoons to drive 2.5 hours (each way) for a decade of home games with Stony Brook, Hampton and whatever other dreg school we can cajole into the CAA. Bourne’s “18-24 month” B.S. fooled me into re-upping this year. Won’t happen again. It is obvious that our school is run by a bunch of risk-averse d-bags with no vision or guts, nor any aspiration to become anything more than we currently are.

    Hope the women’s cross country team (whose prospects appear to be the overriding concern here) can pay the bills and keep the lights on.

    Oh, and let’s allow ODU and VCU to pants us one more time as they walk out the door, too. Screw them and screw their athletes. Did ODU give two squirts about what they were doing to *all* of the athletes in the CAA by tossing the conference into chaos? Did VCU?

    Dark times for JMU. This administration absolutely sucks.

  5. Todd / Jun 17 2012

    Gotta agree with DukeFan91 here. Really tough not to be extremely down right now. I’m going to really enjoy the ’12 football season, because it may mark the end of what has been a great era of momentum at JMU.

  6. Devil's Advocate / Jun 18 2012

    A couple of counter points to consider:

    Without knowing what the vote ended up being, I would guess that very few if any members would vote against increasing the exit fee. If JMU knew that it would lose the vote regardless, or be the only negative vote, than it makes no sense politically to vote that way. Regardless of your thoughts on whether to move up or not, we are where we are and there is not sense in rocking the boat publicly right now.

    As for the ODU “story” I think it’s a borderline non-story. ODU may have approached JMU and UD about a joint “approach” but it was not directly to CUSA it was to an FBS conference in general. What if it would have ended up being the WAC, or the MAC? No thanks. While I like that MAC in terms of peer institutions and not overly ridiculous travel, I have no desire to have JMU football games on Tues or Wed nights.

    As for the comments about “whatever dreg schools” join the CAA, I think it’s very short sighted. The most publicly named schools in regards to rumors of joining the CAA are College of Charleston, Davidson and Appalachian State, not Hampton and not even Stony Brook. There are mulitple schools within the conference that are against Stony Brook and I have read rumors that even if invited it would be possibly Football only. Now if CofC/Davidson/App join the CAA, that is hardly a step back if at all. Basketball may take a SLIGHT step back, Football would at worst be even (depending on your view of the potential of ODU) and if not a step forward.

    Finally, the point (which for your sake I hope was a joke) about Women’s Country is fairly ignorant. Whether you like it or not, college athletics is a business. Even if JMU were to make a jump to CUSA the money it would make off of football would be minimal at best. Basketball in it’s current state would be even worse. Add on to that the increased expenses for the other 15 athletic programs at JMU (including WXC), and it’s probably not a good business decision.

    If you want to call me a CAA and JMU admin apologist, that’s fine. But also keep in mind I’m in favor of moving up to FBS if it’s the right decision. In today’s 24/7 news cycle unfortunately information passes so quickly that it’s hard to decipher fact and rumor. I’m one of those that falls into this trap. But also try and refrain from making emotional decisions without considering both sides of the story. Or don’t, but I think if you do some of these things might make a little more sense.

  7. DukeFan91 / Jun 18 2012


    You make some fair points – I don’t subscribe to many of them, nor agree with them, but they are valid and if that’s your point of view, that’s fine.
    Conference re-alignment (and who gets stuck on the outside of college football, looking in) is going to be about leverage. And this administration keeps handing ours away. Raising the exit fee is only going to make it *less* likely that a good FCS football program like App St (with stated intentions of moving to FBS) would ever join. I hope you’re right, but I’d be surprised if App St joins.

    The point I was trying to make (unsuccessfully, apparently) about the women’s cross country team is that by allowing the football team to stagnate in a dying FCS (while other schools in our conference move to FBS one after another (UMass, Ga State, ODU), the administration is breeding apathy and resignation in the program. The sold out stadium is not permanent, and it is not infallible. Look at the Convo for a men’s game to see what happens when a program stagnates. Stagnation and apathy are sure fire ways to chase donors like me away (I wouldn’t cross the street to see a men’s game any more, but when I was at JMU, the crowds literally rocked the Convo).

    I don’t fork over big bucks to the Duke Club for any reason other than the football team. And through those donations, the school pays the scholarships for all programs. What happens when I, and people like me, decide get apathetic and stop donating? Are the non-revenue sports going to fill the gap? I’ve spoken to several other folks who tailgate on the field with us, and they’re thinking the same way I am. Not good.

    If you think we’re doing fine, fair enough. I disagree. And I think it’s going to get much worse in the near future. The emotion you sense is the fact that Bourne essentially lied about moving up, and fooled me (and others like me) into re-upping this year. Many folks felt we were building momentum toward something bigger. Turns out, we just want to study it and discuss it amongst ourselves. We’l be marooned in FCS (provided there continues to be an FCS) for the foreseeable future.

    No thanks.

  8. 2004 Duke / Jun 19 2012

    Glad to see you enjoyed attending my “anything for money” parties.

  9. Devil's Advocate / Jun 19 2012

    In terms of the exit fee, I really don’t think that $750,000 is going to stop either JMU or App State from moving up. The reason that the CAA is appealing to App State is because of the new TV deal that the CAA signed. While hesitant at first about “leaving” the ESPN nest, from everything I have heard and read regarding the NBC deal is extremely pro CAA.

    The problem I see regarding any JMU – FBS rumor is there is a TON of misinformation out there. Among the misinformation is the 18-24 month “promise” that many people are stating bothers them. The quote from the RTD story is: ““I think it is very likely this could happen. I think you could see movement in the next 18-24 months.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but “could” is by no means a definitive statement. Everyone took this quote and ran with it perceiving it to be that Bourne said we “will” be moving. His statement ended up being true, we did see movement it just wasn’t JMU’s movement.

    No one, including you or I, knows who has approached who in regards to JMU making a move up. Unfortunately for JMU it is not a desirable entity in this race because of the “lack of market.” CUSA has obviously made markets their primary objective in their search for teams to expand with. My point here is that we don’t know whether or not JMU was approached. From everything that we do KNOW (teams they invited), it seems unlikely JMU would be part of that. Maybe Bourne is out there pounding the pavement trying to earn an invitation but has been turned down. Say we were turned down/not approached. The only other feasible option in my mind would be the MAC. While this is a good fit in terms of “peer institutions” I would be wary of the MAC due to ESPN’s propensity to schedule their games on Tues/Weds. The other publicized option is the WAC. As you said in your post, no thanks.

    Let me ask you this. Would you be for making a move to a FBS conference if it were to mean that JMU would lose more money than it currently is?

    As for your point about the Duke Club, I hope that you reconsider becoming apathetic. JMU is in a dangerous spot financially, as a whole but also in athletics. Your financial support is desperately needed. I understand your frustration regarding the FBS issues. I share some of your feelings in that regard. But I hope that it doesn’t impact your giving, especially if you are an alumni (as I would think you are from your screen name).

  10. Rob / Jun 19 2012

    Personally, I’m completely over all of this “JMU to FBS” talk. I’ve always said that I’d prefer JMU stay in FCS and compete for a Championship, than move up and strive to play in a meaningless bowl game w/o any real rivals. I think I would have been pleased if JMU made the move to C-USA w/ODU, but they didn’t. It’s somewhat disappointing, but now I’m ready to look forward to the CAA season. If a move to the MAC becomes a real option, I’d be open to that to. I just don’t want to jump “up” for the sake of jumping.

    Despite the fact that random ODU message board fans consistently post links to our blog and allege that we can’t get over their move, I personally don’t hold a grudge against them or harbor any bitterness. They did what they thought was best. It might work out, or it might not, but it’s something their administration wanted to do and they went for it.

  11. SunChase / Jun 19 2012

    For me, it’s just about the lack of dynamic decision making that the administration seems to lack. Bourne’s comments to the media regarding a jump from FCS have always been intentionally crafted as somewhat vague in order to keep fans excited and keep the money coming in, but not lock the administration into any one particular path. To some, that might seem dishonest. But as someone that’s around the athletic department more than most, that’s a smart choice on his part. I’m sure Bourne recognized even two and three years ago that the NCAA landscape was changing, and giving JMU options was the best thing to do at the time.

    But times have changed. We are no longer in “let’s sit back and wait for it to come to us” mode. The decision-making time is here. Schools are coming and schools are going. We can’t be passive, static, or content to just let the scenery change behind us anymore.

    Want to know what the CAA’s future is? It’s the Big East. Forget their reasoning, because it’s not important- the bottom line is that Pitt and Syracuse left. In the wake of a conference-defining shift, schools like West Virginia and Louisville didn’t play a wait and see game- they tried to grab the first lifeboat off of the sinking ship. Now WVU is on their way to a better place because they had the courage to seize an opportunity and run with it. The rest of the schools have to sit back and pray the don’t fade into irrelevance- just like we might have to at some point in the frighteningly near future.

    If JB is waiting for a risk-less move, we’re gonna be waiting for a long, long time. As in forever. Every time you move, it means taking a risk. There’s being cautious… and then, it seems, there’s being Jeff Bourne.

  12. Devil's Advocate / Jun 20 2012

    Rob, thank you for succinctly summing up my opinion on the matter.

  13. DukeFan91 / Jun 20 2012


    I’m not sure I subscribe to the idea that quadrupling the exit fee would have no impact on App State’s decision to join the CAA. It seemed an unlikely proposition last month. It seems less of one this month. Maybe you’re right, but I doubt the extra $750K liability has zero effect on their decision making.

    We can parse Bourne’s words all day long, and I’m sure you’re correct that he didn’t make any explicit promises regarding an 18-24 month move to FBS. However, as the AD of a quasi-serious (though growing less serious by the day) athletic program, he knew exactly what he was doing. He throws something like that out there, and then he doesn’t say another peep until he’s forced to apologize for crapping the linens with our playoff bid. And since then, nothing more.

    We may still be able to join the MAC as football-only members. But I get the distinct feeling (from every public vote of confidence we give Yeager and the CAA, to every news report that we rebuffed this conference or that conference, to every vote we make in support of penalizing ourselves if we do move) that we’re content to sit on our asses as the college football world blows by us.

    JMU is better than this. And that’s what pisses me off.

  14. Duke Dad / Oct 31 2012

    I have a daughter that will be attending JMU shortly, we are from the midwest. Not sure how much is known about the MAC schools in the mid atlantic region, but hope this helps. There are some good football programs in the MAC and would be a good match for JMU, but the non revenue sports are not up to par. By far, the MAC is a football conference. The other JMU sports would get short changed with a move to the MAC….

  15. Rob / Oct 31 2012

    Thanks for sharing you perspective Duke Dad. I’ve got nothing against the MAC and obviously they’ve got some good teams. If JMU were to move to the league though, it would be a real burden for sports other than football. I’m sure with time the football rivalries would build, but it would be a lot of travel for olympic sports.

    Hope your daughter ends up at JMU. It’s a great school. If you ever have any questions about it, just drop them in the comments and I’m sure folks will reply.

  16. Duke Dad / Nov 1 2012

    Rob you have hit the nail on the head regarding the other sports in the MAC. The level of competition in the MAC, for these sports is weak. The competition in the MAC will do nothing to help better the level of play of these teams. My daughter was recruited by many of the MAC schools and she had no interest in them, except for Miami (great academic school). On a side note, after our visit to JMU it was an easy decision for my daughter to choose JMU. The school is great, lots of friendly folks…..we alI look forward to trips out to visit and watch her play……

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