HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Gov. Kay Ivey wrote a letter to the Alabama High School Athletics Association demanding answers after the Oakwood Adventist Academy Boys Basketball team forfeited a tournament game over their religious observances.
On Thursday, AHSAA Executive Director Alvin Briggs responded to seven questions written in the governor’s letter. His full letter to Gov. Ivey can be read here.
“While AHSAA guidelines do not normally allow me to respond to outside inquiries about student eligibility or actions assessed to member schools, as the Honorable Governor of the State of Alabama, I felt a response would be important in this case,” Briggs opened in his letter.
Briggs said there were concerns from the AHSAA’s Central Board when Oakwood applied to join in 2017 because the school is a Seventh Day Adventist organization that observes the Sabbath from sunset Friday until sunset Saturday, adding that many championship events are held on Fridays and Saturdays.
“Therefore, Oakwood agreed to follow the rules of the AHSAA and agreed to participate in all playoff games without petition, or forfeit. That statement was provided to the AHSAA in writing, and the AHSAA responded in writing, accepting their agreement to participate in championship play, without petition or forfeit,” he added.
Briggs said that the AHSAA was simply following the agreement that had been signed in 2017 when Oakwood became a full member of the AHSAA.
“The AHSAA has over 414 high schools, 288 middle schools, 150,000 student-athletes and close to 10,000 championship contests in 27 sports for boys and girls,” he wrote. “Granting an exemption or making an exception for any reason, every time one is requested, would be chaotic.”
Briggs ended the letter by thanking Ivey for her concern for student-athletes.
The team has accepted an invitation to visit the State Capitol, although a date for the visit hasn’t been set yet.