Alan Maloney, the referee who made 16-year-old high school wrestler Andrew Johnson cut his dreadlocks in order to compete in his next match, has been suspended for two years, USA Today reports.
The announcement was made Wednesday following an investigation into the December 19 incident during a Buena-Oakcrest meet where Maloney forced Johnson to either wear a hair cover, cut his dreadlocks, or forfeit his match. According to The Undefeated, Maloney told Johnson that his hair was "unnatural," and the ref only gave him 90 seconds to trim his locks down. Once a video showing Drew's ordeal went viral, people were irate to see what the young kid had to go through.
The Division on Civil Rights, which worked with the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association to come up with a suitable punishment for Maloney, has implemented a revised "Guidance on Race Discrimination Based on Hairstyle." The new policy indicates that guidelines which previously banned, limited or restricted hairstyles closely associated with those of African-American descent are now in violation of New Jersey law.
"Student athletes should be able to compete with each other on a level playing field," New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said in a statement. "Racial discrimination in the enforcement of the rules of any sport is inconsistent with the spirit of fair play."
Maloney’s suspension created a tidal wave across the NJSIAA with all referees, coaches, and athletic administrators required to undergo implicit bias training. Wrestling officials will also need to undergo hair discrimination training with a focus specifically on Rule 4.2.1 which addresses concerns over hair length, and not on hairstyle.