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James Madison extends Curt Cignetti ahead of FBS jump

Cignetti is 33-5 with three conference titles and three FCS semifinal berths in three seasons on the job.

Some contract extensions for head coaches make you scratch your head. This is not one of those.

On Thursday, James Madison announce it has extended Curt Cignetti for three years, keeping him under contract through the 2027 season.

For one thing, Cignetti is really good at his job. He's 33-5 in three seasons since taking over for Mike Houston, and 100-31 in 11 seasons as the head coach at Indiana U. of Pennsylvania, Elon and JMU. Cignetti's three seasons have brought three CAA championships, three top-3 finishes, and one FCS title game berth with two more FCS semifinal trips.

On top of all that, James Madison is in the midst of moving from the CAA to the Sun Belt. Not only is that an FBS league, it's arguably the most competitive top-to-bottom conference in all of FBS, or at least in the Group of 5. 

Now is not the time to make a head coaching change or, worse, watch Cignetti leave for another program.

"I would like to thank President Alger, and the Board of Visitors for their continued support," Cignetti said. "It is a tremendous honor to lead this football program and none of our success happens without an incredible group of players and staff, both past and present. Likewise, I want to recognize our fan base for their passion and support! Together we are all embarking on an unprecedented transition for JMU football, what an exciting time to be a Duke. My family and I are truly blessed to be a part of this journey with each of you, and we look forward to continued success together."

Financial terms were not disclosed, but Cignetti's original deal paid him a reported $425,000 per year. That would put him at the bottom of the Sun Belt, but with an already-competitive budget of nearly $60 million, it's safe to assume the extension comes with a pay bump. 

James Madison opens its inaugural FBS season with Middle Tennessee on Sept. 3, and plays its first Sun Belt game at Appalachian State on Sept. 24.

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.