JMU Athletics Department Sees Big Changes As It Heads To Sun Belt Conference

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — Students on the James Madison University campus began moving into their dorms on Friday, and the start of a new school year means new plans and goals for the athletics department.

The athletics department has been working hard to make improvements to athletic facilities and complexes to be ready for the Sun Belt.

Athletic Director Jeff Bourne said Sentara Park improvements are nearly complete. New dressing rooms and a new facade design have been added.

Renovations are underway at the Convocation Center with plans to move many sports to this building, and just weeks ago construction began to expand the softball stadium at Veterans Memorial Park. This expansion will give the softball stadium more than 800 new seats according to Bourne. There are also new locker rooms and offices.

“Growing facilities is really the backbone of an athletic program, and it really improves the lives of our student-athletes day in and day out. It makes it easier to recruit coaches and we are really lucky to have three major projects in going on right now,” Bourne said.

However, all of these improvements would not be possible without the support of JMU donors.

“Our fundraising hit the $4,041,000 figure for one year which really eclipses last year by over $1 million,” Bourne said. “The other exciting thing is that our donor numbers are on the rise.”

Bourne said he felt the increase in donors symbolized JMU’s move to the Sun Belt conference.

“The excitement, we feel it every day…we feel it with our fans, we feel it with our staff and we see it in the student-athletes,” Bourne said. “The move to the Sun Belt was a remarkable change for us, and I think it’s a change that will go down in history as one of the most significant things that has happened in our sports program.”

Bourne said the athletics department is proud to announce its affiliation with ESPN+.

“We have a deep and rich experience with ESPN,” Bourne said. “We are thrilled with what it means for our constituency base to be able to stream and watch these games.”

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