Alabama House GOP caucus unanimously approves resolution urging AHSAA to reinstate Maori Davenport
This week, the 77-member Alabama House Republican Caucus unanimously approved a resolution urging the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) to immediately reinstate the eligibility of USA Basketball and Charles Henderson High School star Maori Davenport of Troy.
As the AHSAA continues to get battered by criticism over its decision to rule Davenport ineligible because of a mistake the association admitted was the fault of others, the House GOP members are making their thoughts known in unison. Davenport spoke to the caucus on Tuesday during the first day of the 2019 organizational session.
“After Maori Davenport appeared before our Caucus and very eloquently explained her situation, the 77 Republican members of the Alabama House stand ready to help her regain her eligibility in any way that we can,” House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) said in a press release. “Without exception, our legislators urge the AHSAA to immediately reinstate this impressive young woman who simply wanted to represent our country on an international level.”
The resolution was sponsored by State Rep. Wes Allen (R-Troy), who has helped champion Davenport’s cause since the AHSAA decision and arranged for her appearance at the Alabama State House.
“I am proud to stand alongside Maori Davenport as we work to rectify a situation that should have never occurred,” Allen advised. “Rather than being treated with the callous disregard shown by the AHSAA, young athletes like Maori should be encouraged, supported, and praised.”
The text of the House Republican Caucus Resolution, a copy of which will be sent to the AHSAA and its executive director, Steve Savarese, reads as follows:
Whereas the Alabama House Republican Caucus holds a 77 – 28 supermajority in the House of Representatives; and,
Whereas the Republican supermajority maintains the overwhelming and prevailing opinion among members of the Alabama House; and,
Whereas Charles Henderson High School basketball standout Maori Davenport’s athletic skills and talents earned her a spot on the Team USA roster and a gold medal at the 2018 FIBA Americas U18 Championship; and,
Whereas the USA Basketball program regularly sends a stipend to players who compete for its teams but failed to first check with governing sports officials in Alabama before compensating Davenport; and,
Whereas the 18-year-old Davenport responsibly self-reported the oversight and immediately returned the stipend as soon as it was discovered the check sent to her by USA Basketball exceeded the allowed limit in Alabama; and,
Whereas the Alabama High School Athletic Association ruled Davenport ineligible to play this season in spite of her sincere and timely efforts to rectify a situation that was no fault of her own; and,
Whereas the AHSAA stubbornly refuses to demonstrate empathy and reconsider its decision despite a state and national outcry on Davenport’s behalf by advocates and supporters of amateur athletics; now, therefore, be it
Resolved, that we, the members of the Alabama House Republican Caucus, hereby urge the Alabama High School Athletic Association and its director, Steve Savarese, to reinstate Maori Davenport’s amateur eligibility without delay and take significant steps to ensure that no other student athlete is subject to such callous, unfair, and unjust treatment in future situations of similar circumstance should they arise.
State Rep. Kyle South (R-Fayette) has also drafted a bill that would bring oversight and accountability to the AHSAA. His bill has bipartisan support and was cosponsored by 87 of the 105 House members as of Tuesday.
Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) and Lieutenant Governor-elect Will Ainsworth have called on the AHSAA to reinstate Davenport’s eligibility immediately, too.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn