“Callous, Unfair, & Unjust” – State Republican caucus supports player deemed ineligible over clerical error

Maori Davenport

MONTGOMERY – The Alabama House Republican Caucus Thursday unanimously passed a resolution urging the Alabama High School Athletic Association to reinstate the eligibility of a standout high school basketball player deemed ineligible due to a clerical error our of her control.

Charles Henderson High School basketball player Maori Davenport of Troy pleaded her case before the Republican and Democratic Tuesday. Davenport, a Rutgers signee, was suspended for her final season by state high school officials after playing for USA Basketball last summer. USA Basketball gave her an $857.20 check for “lost wages” after she played for the team in a tournament last summer. The money from USA Basketball inadvertently violated AHSAA’s amateur rule. USA Basketball reported the payment a few months later and Davenport’s family repaid the money.

“After Maori Davenport appeared before our Caucus and very eloquently explained her situation, the 77 Republican members of the Alabama House stand ready to help her regain her eligibility in any way that we can,” House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R – Rainsville) said.  “Without exception, our legislators urge the AHSAA to immediately reinstate this impressive young woman who simply wanted to represent our country on an international level.”

The resolution was sponsored by State Rep. Wes Allen (R – Troy), who has championed Davenport’s cause since the AHSAA decision and arranged for her appearance at the Alabama State House during the Legislature’s organizational session.

“I am proud to stand alongside Maori Davenport as we work to rectify a situation that should have never occurred,” Allen said.  “Rather than being treated with the callous disregard shown by the AHSAA, young athletes like Maori should be encouraged, supported, and praised.”

The text of the House Republican Caucus Resolution, a copy of which will be sent to the AHSAA and its executive director, Steve Savarese, reads:

Whereas the Alabama House Republican Caucus holds a 77 – 28 supermajority in the House of Representatives; and,

Whereas the Republican supermajority maintains the overwhelming and prevailing opinion among members of the Alabama House; and,

Whereas Charles Henderson High School basketball standout Maori Davenport’s athletic skills and talents earned her a spot on the Team USA roster and a gold medal at the 2018 FIBA Americas U18 Championship; and,

Whereas the USA Basketball program regularly sends a stipend to players who compete for its teams but failed to first check with governing sports officials in Alabama before compensating Davenport; and,

Whereas the 18-year-old Davenport responsibly self-reported the oversight and immediately returned the stipend as soon as it was discovered the check sent to her by USA Basketball exceeded the allowed limit in Alabama; and,

Whereas the Alabama High School Athletic Association ruled Davenport ineligible to play this season in spite of her sincere and timely efforts to rectify a situation that was no fault of her own; and,

Whereas the AHSAA stubbornly refuses to demonstrate empathy and reconsider its decision despite a state and national outcry on Davenport’s behalf by advocates and supporters of amateur athletics; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, that we, the members of the Alabama House Republican Caucus, hereby urge the Alabama High School Athletic Association and its director, Steve Savarese, to reinstate Maori Davenport’s amateur eligibility without delay and take significant steps to ensure that no other student athlete is subject to such callous, unfair, and unjust treatment in future situations of similar circumstance should they arise.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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