Judge orders reinstatement of girls' prep basketball player
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama judge temporarily reinstated Maori Davenport's eligibility Friday after the high school star had been suspended over what her parents described as a mistake payment from USA Basketball.
Pike County Circuit Judge Sonny Reagan issued an order stopping the Alabama High School Athletic Association from disqualifying Davenport until the court rules on a complaint filed by the teen's parents. It is unclear when the court will rule on the complaint.
Davenport, a senior at Charles Henderson High School in Troy and a Rutgers signee, had been ruled ineligible for her final season by state high school officials after receiving an $857.20 check from USA Basketball, which has been repaid.
Davenport returned to the court Friday night, scoring 25 points in Charles Henderson High School's victory over Carroll.
Last summer, Davenport played for her country at a youth tournament in Mexico City. As it normally does, USA Basketball sent out the modest stipend check to everyone who participated. That was not an issue for those players who were already heading to college because the NCAA allows such payments. But USA Basketball failed to check on whether it applied to high school players such as Davenport, who couldn't accept any money under the amateurism rules of the Alabama High School Athletic Association.
Davenport's family deposited the check. Then, some three months later, after learning that the payment was against AHSAA rules, they self-reported the violation and repaid the money to USA Basketball.
Jim Williams, an attorney representing the Alabama High School Athletic Association, issued a statement saying the organization will honor and follow the court's order, although it believes the initial decision was an "appropriate interpretation of the rules adopted by the schools and was applied accordingly."
The 6-foot-4 Davenport told The Associated Press earlier this week she doesn't believe she did anything wrong.
"I hope to play again this year, but if I don't get to play again, I just want them to help this not happen to any other student-athlete in Alabama," Davenport said.
She has received an outpouring of support from around the country, including from former NBA star Kobe Bryant, Golden State Warriors center Demarcus Cousins and Rutgers coach Vivian Stringer.
"It just makes me feel like the world has my back in this situation, so I'm not wrong," Davenport said.