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As previously reported, white referee Alan Maloney refused to let Buena Regional High School wrestler Andrew Johnson compete with a cover over his hair. Video of a visibly upset Johnson having his hair hacked off before the match has spread, and many people has since criticized the gesture for being racially motivated. Maloney has been disciplined in the past for making a racist remark.
According to SNJ Today's Mike Frankel, Johnson's coaches argued the decision for "several minutes" with Maloney. When the ref started the clock, signaling that they could go along with Maloney's decision or forfeit the match, Johnson said that he would cut his hair to continue.
TMZ reports that the ref in question has not been suspended or disciplined, but noted that New Jersey athletic authorities are investigating and have recommended that Maloney not cover any more matches until they have the situation sorted. The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association shared a statement with the website.
"The NJSIAA has been in direct contact with school officials and is now awaiting official incident reports. A report also has been requested from the referee involved. In addition—and as per its formal sportsmanship policy—the NJSIAA has provided initial information to the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights and will continue to send updates as they become available," the organization wrote. "At this point, the NJSIAA is working to determine the exact nature of the incident and whether an infraction occurred. As a precautionary measure, given the degree of attention being focused on this matter, the NJSIAA will recommend to chapter officials that the referee in question not be assigned to any event until this matter has been reviewed more thoroughly in order to avoid potential distractions for the competing wrestlers."
UFC Champion Tyron Woodley called for the ref to be fired, noting that he had a ton of hair when he wrested in high school.
"I wrestled and I had the biggest, most ridiculous afro you could ever expect," he said. "It just shows...that people in general don't understand the culture."