Lawmaker looks to check AHSAA authority after basketball player controversy

Lawmaker looks to check AHSAA authority after basketball player controversy
Maori Davenport and her parents visited the Statehouse Tuesday and several lawmakers have urged the Alabama High School Athletic Association to reinstate the player. (Source: Rep. Wes Allen)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - As controversy grows over the decision to rule a star south Alabama high school basketball player ineligible for her senior year, the Alabama High School Athletic Association is facing heavy pressure to reverse course. So far, that hasn’t happened, and it could end up being costly for the organization’s independence if one lawmaker has his way.

Tuesday, standout Charles Henderson High School basketball star and Rutgers commit Maori Davenport and her family traveled to Montgomery to meet with state legislators.

Now, an Alabama legislator is weighing in, promising to check the AHSAA’s power with legislative oversight. And the bill has significant support in the statehouse. Rep. Kyle South, R - Fayette, says 87 of the Alabama House’s 105 members are now co-sponsors of his bill.

South confirmed Wednesday he’s drafted legislation that would create a measure of government oversight of the AHSAA operations that would include:

  • A requirement the State Board of Education review and approve any rules relating to student participation/eligibility before the AHSAA could adopt them. 
  • A requirement that 25 percent of the AHSAA’s governing board to be appointed by the state superintendent or the State Board of Education.
  • A requirement the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts to audit AHSAA in the same manner as a state agency in Alabama.

The AHSAA ruled Davenport ineligible for her senior season after she accepted an $850 check from USA Basketball after playing with the organization over the summer. The money, which was said to be issued as an oversight, was later returned. But AHSAA ruled Davenport violated its “amateur rule” and she was benched for her last year of play.

“Rather than taking special circumstances into consideration and impartially considering the facts at hand, the Alabama High School Athletic Association has created an unnecessary national controversy and callously ruled in a manner that adversely affects an innocent young woman’s eligibility,” South said. “Time and time again, the AHSAA has engaged in behavior and ruled in a manner that clearly calls for more oversight of its actions. Considering the AHSAA receives a majority of its funds from taxpayer-funded public schools and the athletic activities of public school students, there is ample justification for government oversight of its operations.”

South intends to prefile the bill so that it can be considered during the upcoming legislative session.

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