Like many of you, I have been following the situation with Maori Davenport and the controversial decision made by the AHSAA not to let this high school senior play her last season. I’ve read and listened to the accounts of how a reimbursement check was inadvertently mailed out from USA Basketball to the Davenports and after realizing this payment violated the “Amateur Rule,” it was refunded to USA Basketball in an expeditious manner.
I have also followed this story as a media observer. This has become a story that has captured the attention of our nation and has united us in a way that would make any politician shudder. As I scour the internet sifting through hashtag searches for “#Letherplay” and the like, I find nothing but total and complete agreement with, support of and sympathy for Maori and the Davenport family.
As a result of this media storm, the AHSAA has released a statement explaining their reasoning for the decision. I won’t outline this to you here as I’m sure most of you have already read it. I have also listened to our Mayor, Jason Reeves give an account last night at the Troy City Council meeting. If you listen to what Mayor Reeves said last night, you will notice that it provides more context to this story than the AHSAA’s statement. It also provides more details in the timeline of what occurred. Details that compel me to join the 99.999% of Americans in saying, LET HER PLAY!
AHSAA Central Board of Control President, Johnny Hardin made it clear that the rules will be followed to the letter and all parties involved agree that the “Amateur Rule” was indeed violated. I too agree that yes, on its face, the rule was violated. Having said that, I don’t think that the spirit of this rule or it’s intended purpose for being written was in any way violated. We all know that Maori never intended to travel to Mexico City and play basketball for the measly sum of $850! Who in their right mind would? We all know that this was an accidental payment, with a mistaken explanation from the issuer, that was deposited by the Davenports. We all know that once it was realized the payment was indeed in violation, not only was it paid back, but the AHSAA was notified by the Davenports, who subsequently have been blamed by the AHSAA for their part in causing this violation.
The AHSAA has made it clear that the rules will be followed as written. My question to the AHSAA Central Control Board is simply this: If the rules are to be “followed as written,” why does your organization have two levels of appeal? Isn’t is a waste of everyone’s time and resources to meet on two separate occasions, with a total of twenty members, for appeal when in the end your justification for your decision is to simply say, “we followed the rule as written?” Brilliant! Just Brilliant. I believe there could have been a scenario that saved face for the AHSAA and still allowed Maori to play out her senior year.
Sometimes governing bodies have a way of making “amateur” decisions.