James Madison Dukes

NCAA Division: Division I
Conference: Sun Belt
Past Conferences: Colonial Athletic Association(2007-2021). Atlantic 10 Conference(1997-2006). Yankee Conference(1993-1996).

City: Harrisonburg, Virginia

Stadium: Bridgeforth Stadium

National Championships: 2

Conference Titles: 10

Divisional Championships: 3

Team History

The Dukes fielded their first football team in the 70s, with their first game taking place in 1972. Challace McMillin was the first coach. The Dukes started as a Division II team. The Dukes didn’t win a single game during their inaugural season. In 1974, they made the jump to the Virginia College Athletic Association. In their second season in the VCAA, they finished with a perfect 9-0-1 overall record and 5-0 conference record. The year 1975 marked the first time the Dukes won a conference championship. The Dukes did plenty of shuffling before joining the FCS in 1980. From 1980-1984, the Dukes only enjoyed two winning seasons. McMillin’s last season was 1984.


Joe Purzycki became head coach in 1985. Most of the Dukes’ seasons under him were average. However, in 1987, the Dukes finished 9-3 and made the FCS playoffs for the first time in school history. They went on to lose in the first round.


Rip Scherer was next up. His first season was successful, with the Dukes having finished 9-4 and having made the FCS playoffs once again. This time they made it to the quarterfinal round of the FCS playoffs. In 1993, the Dukes moved to the Yankee conference. In their second season there, they finished with a 10-3 overall record and a 6-2 conference record. They made the playoffs once again but fell in the quarterfinal round, yet again.


From 2000 On

Before the 1999 season, the Dukes moved on to the Atlantic 10 Conference under Mickey Matthews. In Matthews’ first season, the Dukes went 8-4 and clinched another playoff berth. From 2000-2003, the Dukes posted a combined record of 19-27. However, in 2004, Matthews and the Dukes made history. They finished 13-2 and won the FCS Championship. In 2007, the Dukes moved to the Colonial Athletic Association. The Dukes never got back to a championship under Matthews, but they did manage to make the playoffs four more times. In 2008, the Dukes finished 12-2 overall and lost in the semifinals of the FCS playoffs. Additionally, they finished undefeated in conference play and won the CAA. Matthews was relieved of his duties after the 2013 season.


Everett Withers coached the Dukes in 2014 and 2015. The Dukes won nine games in each season under Withers. Unfortunately for the Dukes, he agreed to become the head coach at Texas State after the 2015 season.


Mike Houston coached the Dukes from 2016-2018. Houston led the Dukes to be one of the most dominant teams in the FCS. The Dukes won the CAA in 2016 and 2017 with a combined 16-0 record. In Houston’s first season, the Dukes finished 14-1 and won the FCS Championship. In 2018, the Dukes finished 9-4 and lost in the second round. Houston went on to coach Eastern Carolina but will be loved by the fanbase forever. He finished his career with a 37-6 overall record and a dominant 22-2 conference record.


Curt Cignetti is the current coach at James Madison and has been since 2019. In his first season at the helm, the Dukes finished 14-2. Unfortunately, they lost in the National Championship. In the shortened 2020 season, they went 7-1. The year 2021 was successful for the Dukes. They finished 12-2 and lost in the semifinals of the playoffs. Cignetti and the Dukes won the CAA each year from 2019-2021 with a combined conference record of 18-1.

All-Time Records (CFB)

  • Passing yards

    • Bryan Schor: 7,078

    • Cole Johnson: 6,511

    • Mike Cawley: 6,482

    • Justin Rascati: 5,912

    • Ben DiNucci: 5,716

  • Rushing yards

    • Warren Marshall: 4,168

    • Khalid Abdullah: 3,678

    • Rodney Landers: 3,477

    • Dae’Quan Scott: 3,332

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