Oakwood Adventist Academy sues AHSAA for religious discrimination

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WBRC) – Oakwood Adventist Academy in Huntsville has filed a lawsuit against the Alabama High School Athletic Association after the Oakwood Adventist basketball team made the decision to forfeit its state playoff game in February 2022 because it fell on a Sabbath day.

The state would not allow the team to switch to a later time, even if the other teams involved agreed to do so.

The lawsuit alleges religious discrimination by AHSAA against Oakwood Adventist.

According to the lawsuit, Oakwood is a Seventh-day Adventist school and its religious beliefs prohibit it from participating in competitive basketball games on the Sabbath.

The lawsuit asks the Court:

A. Demand that AHSAA stop discriminating against Oakwood and stop preventing Oakwood from participating in the state’s postseason competition because of religious beliefs;

B. Issue a permanent injunction prohibiting AHSAA from refusing to respond to Oakwood’s religious requests for postseason game schedule changes;

C. Compensatory Damages;

D. Nominal damages;

E. Reasonable Costs of Action and Attorneys’ Fees.

WBRC FOX6 News has reached out to AHSAA’s legal counsel. We will update this story when we receive a statement or response.

A copy of the lawsuit is below:

On Tuesday, Feb. 22, Governor Kay Ivey sent a letter to Alabama High School Athletic Association Executive Director Alvin Briggs expressing concern about the alleged treatment of Oakwood Adventist Academy and demanding answers, according to his office.

In a letter to Governor Ivey, Briggs said that by becoming a full member of the association, the team agreed in 2017 to participate in all playoff games without petition or forfeit if they fell on a Friday or Saturday. . Briggs added that the association had simply confirmed the agreement made by Oakwood.

Ivey also met with members of the team.

Governor Ivey with the Oakwood Adventist Academy basketball team(Governor’s Office)

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