AHSAA adopts new rule that accommodates religious requests

AHSAA adopts new rule that accommodates religious requests
Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 2:14 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 28, 2022 at 10:27 AM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - In February, the Oakwood Adventist Academy basketball team was forced to forfeit a game because the team refused to play on its Sabbath which falls on Saturdays for Seventh-Day Adventists. Now, the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) has voted to change the rules.

The team forfeit the game after the AHSAA refused to allow the team to switch game times even though other teams involved had agreed. The game that the team forfeited was in the playoffs and because of the forfeit the team did not have a chance to make it to the state championship.

Even after the team was eliminated due to the forfeit, it still went to the state tournament to cheer on the teams that offered to switch times.

In late February, the team met with Governor Kay Ivey to discuss what had happened and she sent a letter to the AHSAA.

The governor’s office announced Tuesday that a rule change had been adopted to accommodate religious requests. Following the announcement of the new rule, Ivey released a statement on the matter.

“Today’s vote by the Alabama High School Athletic Association is absolutely a win for religious liberty, and no doubt is a testament to the Oakwood boys and their convictions. I hope that Alabamians young and old can look to these boys as an example. They stood strong in their faith and showed that good can come from a difficult situation. Here in Alabama, we will always stand up for religious freedom, and this rule change is certainly doing just that.”

Governor Kay Ivey on the new rule

The AHSAA also released a statement following its adoption of the new rule.

The Alabama High School Athletic Association Central Board of Control today approved a new rule allowing schools to request a religious accommodation during championship play when certain conditions are met. Other state associations and the NCAA have adopted similar rules. This rule will go into effect with the 2023-2024 school year.

AHSAA statement on the new rule