AHSAA seeks dismissal or venue change of Maori Davenport lawsuit

AHSAA seeks dismissal or venue change of Maori Davenport lawsuit
Maori Davenport (Source: Tara Peterson Davenport)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Alabama High School Athletic Association has filed a response to a lawsuit, filed on behalf of Charles Henderson star basketball player Maori Davenport, whom the organization had declared ineligible to play in her senior season.

In an 11-page court document dated Wednesday, the AHSAA filed motions to either have the suit dismissed or moved from Pike County to Montgomery County Circuit Court.

The venue change, according to the AHSAA’s legal filing, was agreed upon when Davenport’s parents signed the AHSAA’s “Parental/Guardian Agreement, Consent, and Release" form on Oct. 4 which states:

The AHSAA provided a portion of its parental consent form, which it said Davenport's parents agreed to with their signature, as grounds for moving the suit from Pike County to Montgomery County Circuit Court.
The AHSAA provided a portion of its parental consent form, which it said Davenport's parents agreed to with their signature, as grounds for moving the suit from Pike County to Montgomery County Circuit Court. (Source: Pike County Circuit Court)

The AHSAA said in its motion to dismiss that the court “lacks jurisdiction of the Plaintiff’s claims” and “has no jurisdiction to interfere with the internal affairs and eligibility rulings of a voluntary high school athletic association, such as AHSAA...”

The controversy started in November when the AHSAA ruled Davenport ineligible for her senior season after USA Basketball gave her an $850 check 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.

AHSAA’s determination that Davenport was ineligible to play was met with public outcry demanding her reinstatement. AHSAA has refused to reverse course.

“Neither USA Basketball, the student’s parents, the student’s coach, nor CHHS administration reported the student had received the check until three months later, (specifically 91 days),” said AHSAA central board of control president Johnny Hardin.

The Alabama Legislature has also weighed-in on the controversy.

“I’d like to see her playing ball,” said Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh. “Somebody needs to be held accountable. And I think there are those up ladder that should step up and they should find a way to let this lady play."

Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette, has also drafted legislation that would create a measure of oversight of AHSAA operations. South says the bill, which could be introduced during the upcoming legislative session, already has support from at least 87 of the 105 Alabama House members.

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