This is my high school and this ruling is as shameful as they come. Steve Savarese, the Executive Director of the AHSAA single-handedly destroyed this child's HS senior season. In the appeal hearing, an agreement was made with the central board and the attorneys to retroactively delete the "lost wages" rule from the handbook (because common sense) and declare Maori ELIGIBLE, and because of personal vendettas towards some of the admin within our system, Savarese personally reneged on the agreement. He is a dirty, crooked man.
For those who only see black and white where the rules are concerned, remember how many high school football players who have been given back their eligibility for falsified bona fide moves, remember how many white, male players who get their eligibility back because of who their parents are. This is a rule that shouldn't even exist in the 21st century as it is a violation of a student athlete's civil rights. If a student athlete has to work to support his or her family and is selected to travel overseas to represent out state in a National game, they should be allowed to accept payment for lost wages. You have a situation here, where the USA Basketball Director has admitted that the mistake came from their office--the check should have never been sent to Maori. They were allowed to accept reimbursement for certain things and when the check came, they thought it was part of that. It was deposited, and when the mistake was found, the family SELF REPORTED to the AHSAA and immediately returned the money. The other two HS girls who also received the money in error, did the same thing and were deemed eligible to play because they went through the proper channels to fix the mistake.
Our State is the only state who decided to PUNISH a young female athlete for being honest and truthful and reporting the mistake. This rule is not black and white--there are grey areas, but our state refused to budge because the Director has a vendetta against our admin. This is a dirty, dirty game being played by a man who gets his ego boosted by power and in the process, he is screwing with the lives children. Savarese better buckle up because it is about to get really difficult for him to hold that big head up in Alabama!!
Yep with her returning the check (cashed or not) she should be cleared, it's not like she signed with some professional team, this was the freaking USA Basketball program! This is one reason I got out of coaching in high school, it's ALL about politics these days. Who has power, who doesn't, etc. It's sad.
The timeline that the AHSAA has used is not accurate. They act like she kept the check for 91 days because she didn't think she would get caught. USA Basketball realized the mistake 2 days before the check was returned. When they received it in August, they called USA Basketball Head Coach and asked what it was for and if it was ok for her to accept it. He told them yes. When USA discovered the clerical mistake--made by a brand new employee--immediately contacted Mrs. Davenport and told her. She called and self-reported it to the AHSAA and sent the check back to USA the next day.
They do not train their coaches, principals, or AD's for any HS eligibility topic other than bonafide moves and college eligibility. In the videos that all HS athletes have to watch and then be tested on, they only cover accepting payments from boosters or donors from colleges (for NCAA eligibility) I know this because I have watched them--both for athletes and coaches.
Maori's mother is a 5th grade teacher, not a full-time basketball coach. She volunteered to coach the middle school team because nobody else wanted to. She doesn't get paid. To be a "certified AHSAA coach" you have to pass an online test and be CPR certified. That's it. The course you take for compliance has NOTHING about lost wages in it.
The player from Illinois who played on the USA 18U team this summer with Maori, who also received the check in error, WAS reinstated after returning the check. The player from Missouri was not declared ineligible for accepting the check, she was declared ineligible for something else and isn't playing basketball this year.
Steve Savarese's phone number and email address are on the AHSAA website. The office address is as well.
The "facts" leaked to Josh Moon for his article came out of a private, confidential executive council meeting.
Savarese and the attorneys involved in the Central Board hearing had entered into an agreement to retroactively abolish the lost wages rule and reinstate Maori. After this agreement was made, Savarese read the Dothan Eagle article in which our principal was interviewed. Something he said made Savarese mad and he dismissed everyone from the Central Board meeting except our Principal, Superintendent and the parties and told them he was reneging on the deal and that is was because our admin made disparaging comments about him in the media (he didn't.) Savarese also claims that our school recruited Maori to play for CHHS. LOL, the most absurd thing he has said as she started school in our system when she was in Kindergarten and her mother has taught there the whole time she has been in our system. He has an axe to grind with our administrators and an innocent girl is caught in the middle.
The Davenports are on Capitol Hill in Montgomery today meeting with Legislators in hopes that they can have the rule abolished so no other HS student has to be put through this again. It may not get Maori reinstated, but as long as other kids are protected, that is what matters.
Bottom line is this: These vaguely written, antiquated rules have got to go. You don't obtain a competitive advantage for being reimbursed for playing for your Country. USA Basketball is the PREMIER amateur organization in the nation and if they think the players deserve compensation, then they should be allowed to accept it. Those of us who vehemently support Maori firmly believe this and we will not stop until she is reinstated.
I'm not sure I have ever seen the AHSAA respond like this before with how they responded to this whole situation and it's pretty scary because they crapped in the bed with this situation and then basically railed the girl's Mother in public all because Savarese got his feelings hurt by reading these articles and him getting bashed in public (and rightfully so). We all know how stupid the NCAA is and this girl would even have been reinstated by those fools yet the AHSAA wanted to show their power and the poor girl is the only one suffering for it.
It really is sad and Savarese SHOULD feel like a fool over this and I hope people continue to rake him over the coals for it. He deserves every bit of it!!!