HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — In February of 2022, the boys basketball team at Oakwood Adventist Academy made the decision to forfeit a game, ending the school’s best season in history.

The team forfeited due to standing firm in their religious beliefs and observance of the Sabbath.

The team’s stance caught the attention of people from all over the country.

“There were people from North Carolina, from Toronto that reached out to us and said ‘we’re standing for you and we’re rooting for you,” said Dr. Toussaint Williams, the parent of a player on the team who was part of the forfeit last season.

In addition to catching the attention of people all over the world, the team also caught the attention of Alabama Governor Kay Ivey. Governor Ivey wrote the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) a letter, to inquire further about the situation, and invited the team to visit Montgomery.

The Adventist high school basketball team also had the support of the South Central Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, who sued the AHSAA.

As of publishing, the lawsuit has been stayed.

Earlier this week, the AHSAA adopted a new rule, regarding religious accommodations in championship play.

Here is the statement from the AHSAA sent to News 19:

The Alabama High School Athletic Association Central Board of Control today approved a new rule allowing schools to request a religious accommodation during championship play when certain conditions are met. Other state associations and the NCAA have adopted similar rules. This rule will go into effect with the 2023-2024 school year. 

Alabama High School Athletic Association

After the news of the AHSAA rule change broke, News 19 reached out to Dr. Williams, to learn how his family feels about the news.

He said the family was shocked when they heard the news.

Williams has one son who is now a senior on the team and another son who plans to play on the team in upcoming years. He said now they won’t have to go through the same experience.

“So not having to worry about this again is like a shock, and a big relief,” he said.

“They won’t have to worry about scheduling or any other challenges, they can just go out and play and let the best team win,” Williams said.

Williams also thanked News 19 for our continued coverage of the story since February.

“Just wanted to say thank you,” Williams said. “Thank you to WHNT and the rest of the news team, the rest of the media which has really done a phenomenal job in spotlighting this and recognizing the importance of it, and so in doing so, so many other people have had the opportunity to be a part of supporting these young men.”

OAA’s next basketball season starts in November.