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Colorado State High School Wrestling Championships

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Referee Suspended For 2 Years After Making Student Cut His Locs Before Match

After making 16-year-old high school wrestler Andrew Johnson cut his locs in order to compete in his next match, referee Alan Maloney has been suspended for two years.

According to reports from USA Today, the announcement was made on Wednesday following a lengthy investigation into the incident that went down on December 19. During a Buena-Oakcrest meet, Maloney forced Johnson to either wear a hair cover, cut his hair, or forfeit his match. According to The Undefeated, the referee told Johnson that his hair was “unnatural,” and the ref only gave him 90 seconds to trim his locs down.

A video showing Drew’s hair being cut went viral, and obviously, people were incredibly angry to see what the young man had to go through.

The Division on Civil Rights worked with the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association to come up with a suitable punishment for Maloney, and has now implemented a revised “Guidance on Race Discrimination Based on Hairstyle.” The new policy indicates that guidelines which previously banned, limitedm 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.”

On top of punishment for the referee who so ignorantly asked the student to cut his dreadlocks, 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.


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