The wrestling referee who made a high school athlete cut off his dreadlocks before competing in a match late last year has been suspended for the next two wrestling seasons following an investigation by the New Jersey Attorney General’s office. In December 2018, referee Alan Maloney would not let Buena High School wrestler Andrew Johnson compete in his match unless he chopped off his dreadlocks. Johnson opted to get the hair cut and ended up winning the match, but video of the incident went viral and sparked outrage. At the time, Maloney was sidelined while the investigation into his behavior proceeded.
In a press release, the office announced that it and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association agreed to conduct implicit bias training for high school athletics employees across the state. Wrestling officials will also undergo “in-person training” to underscore that the sport’s rule on hair “is based solely on hair length, not on hair style.” “Student athletes should be able to compete with each other on a level playing field,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal wrote in the release. “Racial discrimination in the enforcement of the rules of any sport is inconsistent with the spirit of fair play.”