E.A. Sports Today

Trouble averted

Quick action by county tournament administrators alters prize package for contest, sparing player eligibility questions

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

One of the sponsors of this year’s Calhoun County Basketball Tournament has had to change the prize allocation for its in-tournament contest when it was discovered Friday part of the winnings would violate a player’s eligibility.

Call it a case of being a little too zealous in wanting to do a nice thing.

Farmers & Merchants Bank is bankrolling a shooting skills competition among players in the tournament, which starts Saturday at Jacksonville State, but part of the prize structure would have awarded $1,000 to the winning player in violation of AHSAA amateurism rules.

Under the initial provisions of the contest, if a player came through the three-stage competition and ultimately hit a half-court shot, the bank would award the player’s school $4,500, his team $4,500 and him $1,000.

The first bullet in the AHSAA Handbook regarding amateurism states, among other things, “a student is ineligible if he/she has received money as a prize.” It later states no award of any kind having a monetary value of more than $250 – other than medals, trophies, plaques or AHSAA championship rings – shall be made to students.

Under the revised award plan, the school and the team each shall receive $5,000 if the player hits the half-court shot.

Ohatchee High School principal Bobby Tittle, this year’s tournament host, said his reaction to seeing the prize breakdown was “instantaneous.”

“It automatically raised an eye, but I didn’t say anything to (F&M) until I researched it a little more,” Tittle said. “I knew it was a gray area to begin with and we don’t want to do anything that’s gray; I want to be black and white.

“Something like that you don’t want to jeopardize somebody or a program or anything like that.”

The contest has three layers. After each tournament game, coaches will choose one player who will have one minute to make a layup, free throw and 3-pointer. Those completing that gauntlet move to the next round where they’ll have another minute to make as many 3-pointers as time allows.

The player hitting the most 3-pointers in Round 2 will shoot a half-court shot for the big money.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Tittle said. “I think it’s a good way to promote them and, more important, it’s something fun to watch on that last day in addition to the championship games.”

The tournament opens with a full slate of games Saturday:

Sacred Heart girls vs. Jacksonville Christian, 9 a.m.
Jacksonville Christian boys vs. Jacksonville, 10:30 a.m.
Ohatchee girls vs. Donoho, noon
Donoho boys vs. Faith Christian, 1:30 p.m.
Weaver girls vs. Faith Christian, 3 p.m.
Ohatchee boys vs. Pleasant Valley, 4:30 p.m.
Alexandria girls vs. Saks, 6 p.m.
Wellborn boys vs. Piedmont, 7:30 p.m.

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