Davenport remains ineligible

Published 3:22 pm Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Charles Henderson High School lost its appeal on Tuesday, leaving Maori Davenport ineligible to play her senior season.

Davenport, a Rutgers commit and Miss Basketball candidate, was deemed ineligible earlier this month by the AHSAA for receiving payment by USA basketball for her time on Team USA’s U18 basketball team this summer.

On Tuesday, the ASHAA Central Board of Control voted unanimously to uphold last week’s District 2 council ruling that the school was in violation of the amateur rule because of the incident.

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“This situation is very difficult for everyone involved,” said Charles Henderson principal Dr. Brock Kelley. “The AHSAA felt a rule had been violated and the Central Board of Control has an obligation to uphold all rules and bylaws despite compelling and undisputed mitigating factors. Whether I agree or disagree with their decision on Maori, as a member school of the AHSAA, I have no choice but to respect the board’s decision.”

According to the AHSAA, Davenport and Charles Henderson High violated the Amateur Rule, found on page 29 of the 2018-19 AHSAA Handbook. It states in part:

“(d) 1. A student cannot accept payment for loss time or wages while participating in athletics as part of expenses. (e) No award of any kind having a monetary value of more than $250 –other than medals, trophies, plaques or AHSAA Championship rings – shall be made to students. Violation of this rule on the part of school officials shall subject the school to suspension for one year. Acceptance of awards exceeding these limitations shall disqualify a student. Cash awards or gift cards for athletic performance or participations may not be given or received.”

Davenport received a check from USA basketball for her participation in the FIBA Americas U18 Tournament in Mexico City.

Davenport was one of two high school players to play for Team USA. Each player received a check, but due to her high school status, Davenport and Charles Henderson violated the Amateur rule listed in the AHSAA handbook.

“Dr. Kelley did a great job at presenting the information,” said Charles Henderson head coach Dyneshia Jones. “All the facts, we told nothing but the truth. USA basketball CEO was there and the chairman also. They said it was their fault for sending the check; they made a mistake. They took the blame for it. They still said we should have known.

“(She’s a) great kid, she doesn’t deserve this, but they still ruled her ineligible.”

The appeal was heard at a special called meeting at the AHSAA office.

“I want to thank Charles Henderson High School for its heart-felt presentation made to the Central Board,” AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese said. “I also want to commend the Central Board for its commitment to upholding the AHSAA member-school by-laws in sometimes very difficult situations.”

Davenport has not played since the November 29 game against Barbour Country. The Trojans have played in nine games without their senior and have gone 9-0 in those games. The Trojans are forced to forfeit all their games prior to Davenport’s suspension beginning on November 30, bringing their record on the season to 9-4.

Davenport began the season as a candidate for the Miss Basketball award after finishing runner-up a season ago. Davenport entered the season ranked as the 15th best recruit in the 2019 class by ESPN as a 5-star recruit.

She finished last season scoring 18 points per game with 12 rebounds and 5.5 blocks. Davenport and the Trojans have advanced to the state championship in each of the last two years and won their first ever championship last season.

“Maori is not only an elite basketball player,” Kelley said. “She is an elite person. We’re all saddened that she will not have the opportunity to represent our Trojan family and the State of Alabama during the 2018-2019 basketball season. Despite this ruling, we’re proud of the way Maori and her family have handled this situation.”

Jones said Davenport will be allowed to practice with the Trojans and sit on the bench during games, although she will not be allowed to be in uniform.

“She has been with us since the seventh grade,” Jones said. “It’s very big. She is part of the team, regardless of the situation. She is still a teammate and we still love her.”