- Rutgers Scarlet Knights commit and top-15 recruit Maori Davenport was ruled ineligible for the remainder of her senior year by the Alabama High School Athletic Association.
- According to reporting from ESPNW’s Walter Villa, USA Basketball sent Davenport a $US857.20 stipend check to cover her expenses from a Team USA trip to Mexico, a very routine practice.
- Her high school’s federation prohibits payments of more than $US250, but due to a clerical error, USA Basketball failed to check with the AHSAA to determine the legality of the payment.
- Davenport is still eligible to play at Rutgers next year, but the AHSAA still has refused to reinstate her eligibility despite two appeals, thousands of signatures on an online petition, and tons of support on social media.
Maori Davenport – a Rutgers commit and a key member of the United States team that earned gold at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Mexico City last summer – was instrumental in leading Charles Henderson High School to its first-ever state title last season.
But now that a chance to repeat as state champions has arrived, Davenport finds herself watching from the sidelines. Just four games into her final season with the Trojans, Davenport received the devastating news that the Alabama High School Athletic Association had ruled her ineligible for the remainder of the season.
According to ESPNW’s Walter Villa, USA Basketball sent Davenport a $US857.20 stipend check to cover her expenses from her Team USA trip to Mexico, which is a routine practice, but failed to check with her high school’s federation to determine the legality of the payment. According to Villa, the AHSAA prohibits payments of more than $US250.
USA Basketball contacted both Davenport and the AHSAA to correct the error, but it was too late. Davenport had already cashed the check, and that was enough to end her eligibility. She’s since returned the money and appealed the decision, but it has twice been upheld.
“I realise this is the reality,” Davenport told ESPNW. “But it hasn’t gotten any easier.”
Thankfully for Davenport, the USA Basketball payment will not impact her eligibility to play at Rutgers next season. Still, watching her team compete from the sidelines has not been easy for one of the country’s best players.
“I never imagined I would be training a whole season without playing a game, but that seems like what’s happening,” she told ESPNW. “It’s been hard, but I still have hope. Maybe something good can come out of this. Maybe the rule gets changed. It may not help me, but I don’t want this to happen to any other athlete.”
Davenport certainly isn’t alone in fighting for her eligibility and a change to the rules. An online petition to reinstate her eligibility has garnered thousands of signatures and a number of big names have taken to social media to show their support.
The WNBA urges the Alabama High School Athletic Association to reinstate Maori Davenport. Let her play the rest of her senior season instead of being penalized for an honest mistake made by others. https://t.co/CVgHNSqVAZ
— WNBA (@WNBA) January 4, 2019
Ridiculous. And, we “adults” fall all over ourselves saying we’re in it for the players, and we yak incessantly about “athlete welfare.” Maddening. Some common sense might help. https://t.co/OCKBY1S1Iv
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) January 4, 2019
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