Maori Davenport, a Charles Henderson High School student and stand out basketball player, has been granted an emergency motion by Judge Sonny Reagan in Pike, Alabama to reinstate her eligibility. Davenport, a 6-foot-4 senior and Rutgers commit, went to court against the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) and its executive director, Steve Savarese, over a check she was given by USA Basketball.
At the end of November, the AHSAA ruled Davenport ineligible after they learned she mistakenly received a check from USA Basketball for $857.20. She played for the U18 national team this past summer and the team sent her the money without knowing the AHSAA rules.
USA Basketball was giving her a stipend for lost wages from the trip. Davenport and the team competed in Mexico City in August of 2018 and won the gold medal in the FIBA Americas Championship. According to ESPN, Davenport deposited the money then returned it in full when she learned of the state’s rule in November. Ninety-one days passed between time Davenport received the check and the AHSAA was notified.
The AHSAA was quick to act when learning of the incident. She was immediately put on suspension and has been until the Pike County court ruling Friday morning. Meanwhile, many people have been advocating for Savarese and the AHSAA to let her play. The AHSAA released a statement on January 7. Central Board of Control President, Johnny Hardin said the following:
“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. 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.”
Hardin later mentioned that AHSAA member schools (which includes Charles Henderson High School) write and approve the AHSAA eligibility rules. Therefore not all of this is in the hands of Savarese. However, his name circled national headlines and he was criticized by many.
Jay Bilas of ESPN seemed to be the leader of the campaign for Maori Davenport. His daily tweets updating people on the situation and expressing his thoughts and opinions towards the AHSAA prompted athletes and coaches everywhere to speak out. Kobe Bryant, Demarcus “Boogie” Cousins (an Alabama native), the WNBA account and many others tweeted out towards the AHSAA and Savarese.
After months of waiting, Maori made her debut Friday night and scored 25 points against Carroll High School. She will continue to lead her Trojans for now, hoping the AHSAA chooses to drop her case.