Hearing on Maori Davenport eligibility set for Tuesday, Jan. 22

Published 3:51 pm Monday, January 14, 2019

CHHS basketball standout Maori Davenport will go next Tuesday to find out whether she will be eligible for the remainder of her senior season.

Newly elected Circuit Judge Sonny Reagan granted Davenport a temporary restraining order Friday that allowed her to play for the first time since she was declared ineligible by the Alabama High School Athletic Association on November 30, 2018.

The order decreed that the AHSAA be “restrained and enjoined from disqualifying Maori Davenport from participation in the sport of basketball until such time as the court rules on the plaintiff’s complaint.”

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That order cleared Davenport to play basketball again, beginning with a home game against Carroll that very night, in which Davenport scored 25 points. It will also allow her to play in games scheduled before the hearing, when Reagan will decide whether to permanently rule on the complaint.

The hearing will be held at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, January 22, at the Pike County Courthouse.

The complaint, filed by Mario and Tara Davenport on behalf of their daughter, seeks a permanent injunction against the AHSAA as well as Executive Director Steve Savarese individually so that Davenport can continue to play throughout the regular season and postseason.

According to the complaint, “The Alabama Supreme Court has long held that a Circuit Court may overrule the AHSAA ‘if the acts of the association are the results of fraud, lack of jurisdiction, collusion or arbitrariness’ and in those cases ‘the courts will intervene to protect an injured parties rights.’”

The complaint states that the AHSAA ruling is arbitrary, pointing to instances where the AHSAA has reversed decisions in the past.

“Based on information and belief, the defendants have ruled players, schools and or coaches ineligible only to reduce or suspend their punishment based on arbitrary factors,” the complaint reads. “… There is no guidance provided by the defendants as to what a disqualified school, player or coach can do to receive the mercy of the defendants. Neither the plaintiffs nor Charles Henderson High School were given any opportunity or guidance to take any corrective action to mitigate the situation. The school and the Davenports have complied completely with the defendants. This inconsistency and lack of transparency in the decision-making process is quintessentially arbitrary.”

Efforts to reach attorneys representing the AHSAA or the Davenports in this case were unsuccessful.