(NBC News) — A New Jersey referee who forced a high school wrestler to cut his dreadlocks right before a match has been barred from further officiating pending an investigation into the incident, school district officials said Friday.
The unnamed Buena Regional High School student was told at a match Wednesday night that his hair and headgear were not compliant with regulation and would have to instantly cut his long locks or forfeit the round, according to a statement Friday from the Buena Regional School District.
Video of the student having his hair cut went viral after it was circulated on social media the following day, drawing widespread outrage online.
A New Jersey referee who forced a high-school wrestler to cut his dreadlocks right before a match has been barred from further officiating, pending an investigation into the incident, school district officials said.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 22, 2018
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association released a statement Friday that said it would recommend the referee, who was not named, not officiate any matches until a review could be completed.
“Regulations regarding hair length and legal hair covers for wrestlers are provided by the National Federation of State High School Associations,” the statement read. “At this point, the NJSIAA is working to determine the exact nature of the incident and whether an infraction occurred.”
High school wrestler ordered to cut dreadlocks during match
Multiple news outlets, including Sports Illustrated and NJ.com, identified the clearly-visible referee in the video as Alan Maloney — who was also once accused of calling another referee a racial slur during a March, 2016 social gathering in an argument over home-made wine, according to the Courier-Post Journal of South Jersey.
NBC News called a number listed for Maloney on Friday but did not receive a response.
The New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union also decried Maloney’s decision to cut the student’s hair, calling the rule discriminatory.
“No-loc bans are designed to oppress and shame Black people not just for expressing Blackness, but for their Blackness,” the group said in a tweet. “They have no place in our society and certainly not in our schools.”