In a time of endless frustrating news reports, a frustrating sports story stands out. Maori Davenport, a high school basketball star and Rutgers recruit, has been deemed ineligible for her senior season for what many are calling an honest mistake made by officials.
Davenport helped Team USA win the gold at the FIBA Americas Under-18 Championship last fall. In November, she was sent an $857.20 stipend for her time with the team, which was typical as USA Basketball often provides small stipends to players playing on behalf of the country. These stipends are allowed by the NCAA, but each state has their own specific rules around the money.
Alabama does not allow players to receive stipends greater than $250. Once USA Basketball realized their mistake in sending the check, the organization notified the Alabama High School Athletic Association and Davenport’s high school team. Davenport immediately repaid all of the money, but the AHSAA deemed her ineligible to play anyways and refuses to lift the suspension.
Many are rallying in support of Davenport on social media:
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
Everyone, from the WNBA to Chris Paul, is united against the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s unfair, mean-spirited ruling against Maori Davenport. AHSAA Director Steve Savarese made this decision. He needs to reinstate Davenport. @AHSAA_hoops https://t.co/GIhBceXeNc— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) January 5, 2019
This is ridiculous. Cmon AHSAA 🙄 https://t.co/GdOP1mQkLz— Sue Bird (@S10Bird) January 5, 2019
Never take basketball away from a kid. Let her play.— Spalding (@Spalding) January 4, 2019
Davenport’s future coach at Rutgers, C. Vivian Stringer, also voiced her support, telling NJ Advance Media: “Maori hadn’t done a doggone thing except receive the check from USA Basketball. It was grown-ups’ fault. And grown-ups did not lay claim to that. Maori sent the money back the next day. She’s a great kid, great student. She tried to do the right thing. And then the Alabama association … are you kidding me? This girl was up for player of the year, All-American. How can you do that?”