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Ivey praises AHSAA rule accommodating religious requests

Ivey said the rule’s adoption is a win for religious liberty.

Governor Kay Ivey held a meeting with Oakwood Basketball Team in the Governor’s Office Tuesday March 8, 2022 in Montgomery, Ala. Governor’s Office/Hal Yeager

The AHSAA Central Board of Control approved a new rule on Tuesday that will allow for a school to request religious accommodation under certain conditions.

The new rule comes after Oakwood Academy, a Seventh Day Adventist school in Huntsville, forfeited a semifinal game in February that was set to be played on a Saturday afternoon.

Seventh Day Adventists observe Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.

The AHSAA denied multiple requests to swap the regional game to a Friday slot.

Gov. Kay Ivey met with the team earlier this year as some state leaders criticized the AHSAA for failing to accomodate the request. The governor also wrote a letter to AHSAA Executive Director Alvin Briggs about the situation. In their meeting, team members told the governor they hoped that their experience would force a change so that this would never happen again.

Ivey said the new rule adoption is a win for religious freedom.

“Today’s vote by the Alabama High School Athletic Association is absolutely a win for religious liberty, and no doubt, is a testament to the Oakwood boys and their convictions,” Ivey said in a statement. “I hope that Alabamians – young and old – can look to these boys as an example. They stood strong in their faith and showed that good can come from a difficult situation. Here in Alabama, we will always stand up for religious freedom, and this rule change is certainly doing just that.”

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Briggs defended the AHSAA’s actions in February, stating that the association had concerns about potential conflicts before Oakwood joined.

“Oakwood agreed to follow the rules of the AHSAA and agreed to participate in all playoff games without petition, or forfeit,” Briggs wrote. “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.”

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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