Wrestling Referee Who Made Black High Schooler Cut Off Dreadlocks Now Banned From Officiating District Matches

A high school wrestling referee, who forced a black high schooler to cut off his dreadlocks or risk disqualification, has now been banned from officiating matches in the district.

Alan Maloney drew widespread backlash for his in-match ruling that Buena Regional High School wrestler Andrew Johnson would need to cut off his dreadlocks or be disqualified. Video showed a member of the coaching staff hastily cutting the hair of the visibly emotional boy, who went on to win his match in dramatic fashion and lead his team to a victory. As the New York Daily News reported, the referee is now facing consequences.

After the story garnered national attention, many called on Alan Maloney to be fired from the position. While Maloney may still have his job as a referee, he has been banned from officiating matches involving athletes from the New Jersey school district where the controversial incident took place.

"The Superintendent of the Buena Regional School District spoke with the NJSIAA Assistant Director and stipulated that, although the investigation in the matter is ongoing, the assigned referee will no longer be permitted to officiate any contests that include any Buena Regional School District student-athletes," said Buena Regional School District Superintendent David Cappuccio, Jr. in a statement.

The referee's decision has come under widespread criticism, and even New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said on Saturday that he was disturbed at the incident.

Meanwhile, a number of people have come forward to say that referee Alan Maloney has used racist language in the past, including the N-word. In 2016, the Courier-Post reported that Maloney got into an altercation with fellow referee Preston Hamilton. During the spat, Maloney allegedly poked Maloney in the chest and called him the N-word, in full view of other youth wrestling officials.

At the time, others came forward to accuse Maloney of a long history of racism.

"No, I would prefer not to have that person," longtime Camden High School coach Hedley Thame, who is African-American, told the newspaper. "You'd have to wonder about the calls.

"It's bad enough when I started in 1975 and you were getting bad calls and it was likely because the wrestlers were black. … There's no spot for anything like that in any sport."
Both referees involved in the spat were originally given a one-year suspension, but both were overturned on appeal.

Alan Maloney's ruling that the African-American wrestler had to cut off his deadlocks or risk disqualification is under investigation by the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association.