James Madison fires football coach Matthews

Harrisonburg, VA ( - James Madison football coach Mickey Matthews, who led the Dukes to the 2004 FCS national championship, was fired on Monday, two days after completing his 15th season.

The Dukes lost four of their final five games to finish 6-6. They had a 109-71 overall record under Matthews.

Matthews had one year remaining on his contract.

"I want to thank Coach Matthews for his leadership of our football program and the many contributions he made to the university, our athletics program and specifically our football team over the past 15 years," JMU athletic director Jeff Bourne said. "I speak for the entire university community in wishing him and his family the best in their future endeavors."

Bourne said James Madison has begun a national search for Matthews' successor. The Dukes are among the FCS leaders in home attendance and their athletic program is seeking a possible move to the FBS level.

Matthews is the only two-time recipient of the Eddie Robinson Award as the FCS coach of the year, winning in 1999 and 2008.

The highlight of his James Madison tenure was the 2004 season, when the Dukes went 13-2 and defeated Montana, 31-21, in the FCS (then NCAA Division I-AA) championship game.

Since Matthews led the Dukes to the national semifinals in 2008, they have missed the playoffs in four of the past five seasons.

"We will work aggressively but deliberately in this search," Bourne said. "I look forward to welcoming our next head coach to the university and our outstanding group of student-athletes. Until that time, I will not have any further public comment."

Bourne was chair of this year's FCS playoff selection committee, which chose the 24-team field this past weekend.