Maori Davenport’s AHSAA suspension sparks outrage, support on national level

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( — Maori Davenport is getting some national support after being ruled ineligible by the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas and NBA star DeMarcus Cousins have spoken out, using social media, to support the Charles Henderson High senior and Rutgers basketball signee. Bilas even penned an column today about the situation, and Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer spoke out about the situation over the weekend.

At the same time, the head of the AHSAA’s Central Board of Control offered a lengthy defense of the penalty today.

The AHSAA suspended Davenport last month, and the AHSAA Central Board denied Davenport’s appeal in a case stemming from a payment the Rutgers commit received from USA Basketball for playing for Team USA in the FIBA Americas U18 Tournament in Mexico City in August.

A USA Basketball spokesman told that the 6-foot-4 Rutgers signee was paid “less than $900,” a payment allowed by NCAA rules but impermissible according to the AHSAA’s amateur rule. The AHSAA’s punishment for breaking the rule is a one-season suspension.

Since Davenport is a senior, the suspension essentially ends her high school career. The payment does not jeopardize her college eligibility at Rutgers, and she returned the money to USA Basketball.

In response to the national coverage, Statement by AHSAA Central Board of Control President Johnny Hardin released a lengthy response today. In it's statement Hardin says the payments by USA Basketball affected other students beyond just Davenport.

"It should be pointed out that a high school student from Illinois also received payment from USA Basketball. However, that student called her high school once she received the check and then returned the check to USA Basketball without cashing or depositing it. Here, the student received the check, endorsed it and it was posted to her bank account. Three months later, AHSAA was notified and the monies returned to USA Basketball.

"A high school student from Missouri has also been ruled ineligible for this basketball season for accepting the lost wages payment from USA Basketball.

"USA Basketball never called Charles Henderson High School or AHSAA to ask if payment for lost wages violated AHSAA rules until November which was three months after payment was made and accepted by the student. This was not a clerical error but a complete lack of administrative oversight on the part of USA Basketball, thus possibly rendering multiple student-athletes ineligible as most states have an Amateur Rule.

Read the full letter.

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