Oakwood Adventist Academy sues AHSAA, claims religious discrimination

Published: May. 4, 2022 at 4:55 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WBRC) - Oakwood Adventist Academy in Huntsville 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 their Sabbath.

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

The lawsuit alleges religious discrimination by the 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 requests the Court:

A. Require AHSAA to cease discriminating against Oakwood and to cease preventing Oakwood from participating in state postseason competition on account of religious beliefs;

B. Issue permanent injunction barring AHSAA refusing to accommodate Oakwood’s religious requests for schedule alterations to postseason play;

C. Compensatory Damages;

D. Nominal Damages;

E. Cost of action and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

WBRC FOX6 News reached out to legal counsel for AHSAA. 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 the Alabama High School Athletic Association Executive Director Alvin Briggs to express her concern for the alleged treatment of the Oakwood Adventist Academy and to demand answers, according to her office.

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

Ivey also met with members of the team.

Gov. Ivey with Oakwood Adventist Academy basketball team
Gov. Ivey with Oakwood Adventist Academy basketball team(Governor's Office)


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