Maori Davenport, one of the top girls basketball players in the country, has been suspended for breaking an Alabama rule regarding payment for playing on the USA National Basketball team.
USA Basketball pays players small amounts during its summer programs to help them recover costs including lost wages and employment opportunities, said USA Basketball spokesman Craig Miller.
Typically, the organization checks with the high school federations to determine whether the players are allowed to accept payment. Because Davenport was one of the only players on the U18 team who still had a year left of high school eligibility, USA Basketball did not check with the Alabama High School Athletic Association before sending the money.
Al.com reported and Miller confirmed that Davenport was paid less than $900.
The AHSAA does not allow payment of more than $250, according to Al.com.
When USA Basketball realized the mistake, it notified Charles Henderson High School (Troy, Ala.) and the AHSAA, Miller said.
He added that the Davenports sent back the money “almost immediately” in “late October or early November.”
According to the Dothan Eagle, Davenport’s mother told the AHSAA about the payment in late November, after the money had been paid back.
Davenport was suspended for the season. The punishment was upheld on Wednesday, according to the Dothan Eagle.
“USA Basketball supplied a letter outlining that (the organization) had made a clerical mistake and had issued a check,” Miller said.
Miller said the Davenports and the school plans to appeal to the state central board, which USA Basketball offered to send a representative to speak at.
This is the first time Miller can recall a situation like this arising within the USA Basketball organization. He said the Davenports were unaware the payment would break AHSAA rules they received it.
“I’m sure with getting it from USA Basketball, with our credibility, they felt everything was fine,” Miller said.
Davenport averaged 18.2 points, 12 rebounds and 5.1 blocks per game as a junior. With USA Basketball over summer, she started four of six games.
She made the ALL-USA Preseason Girls Basketball team entering this season.
A Charles Henderson High School representative did not respond for comment.