Davenport case receiving continued national media attention

Published 2:18 pm Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Alabama High School Athletic Association stuck by its ruling Monday that Charles Henderson High School student Maori Davenport should be deemed ineligible for the remainder of her senior season due to violating the AHSAA amateur rule.

That has not stopped the ongoing pressure, however in the national media and around the state.

ESPN aired a segment on its program Outside the Lines Tuesday that included an interview with Davenport on Good Morning America.

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“My parents called the coach (of the USA Basketball team) to make sure that it was OK and he said ‘yes’ and that everybody was going to get the check,” Davenport said.

“They said that she received the check and cashed the check and she wasn’t supposed to and therefore she had broken the amateur rule,” added her mother Tara Davenport.

ESPN’s Jay Bilas also wrote a report on the situation, speaking with AHSAA Director Steven Savarese about the decision. Bilas criticized the ruling in the Undisputed segment as well.

In response to the media pressure, the AHSAA released a statement fully backing its ruling.

“The student’s mother is a certified AHSAA Basketball Coach; therefore, she is required to uphold current AHSAA bylaws and rules, including the Amateur Rule quoted above.,” said AHSAA Central Board of Control President Johnny Hardin said in the statement. “Furthermore, the Head Girls’ Basketball Coach at CHHS is a former member of the AHSAA Central Board of Control; thus, she should not only appreciate the importance of knowing and following the AHSAA bylaws and eligibility rules but also understand how imperative it is to consistently uphold the same rules.”

Team USA took complete responsibility in the matter in December. Hardin blamed the situation on lack of administration oversight.

“USA Basketball never called Charles Henderson High School or AHSAA to ask if payment for lost wages violated AHSAA rules until November which was three months after payment was made and accepted by the student,” Hardin said. “This was not a clerical error but a complete lack of administrative oversight on the part of USA Basketball, thus possibly rendering multiple student-athletes ineligible as most states have an Amateur Rule.”

Still, many people in the state and country disagree. NBA star Chris Paul took to Twitter to  criticize the decision, asking, “How is this even fair?? She shouldn’t pay for someone else’s mistake. This is CRAZY!!!!”

Davenport also visited the state legislature Tuesday to garner support from political leaders in the state.

State Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh even sent a letter to Savarese requesting for Davenport to be reinstated.

“As you are aware, when I learned of Maori Davenport being ruled ineligible to participate in her senior season, I was outraged and took it upon myself to investigate this matter,” Del Marsh told Savarese in the letter. “Having spoken with you and other interested parties about this matter over the weekend, I understand that the Alabama High School Athletic Association Board issued their ruling on Ms. Davenport’s eligibility based on a set of facts as they were presented at the time. I have been made aware that there has been new evidence presented in this matter and am hereby calling on you to ask the Chairman to reopen this investigation AND to reinstate Ms. Davenport’s eligibility pending the outcome of the investigation.”