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 state division on civil rights investigation found that Maloney determined that Johnson required a hair covering and gave Johnson the choice of cutting his hair or forfeiting after no covering could be located that satisfied rules governing long hair.
The report concluded, however, that various New Jersey wrestling officials had interpreted the rule to apply to various traditionally black hairstyles regardless of length.
The agreement between the civil rights office and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association announced Wednesday seeks to eliminate interpretations of the rule “that allowed wrestling officials to determine that traditionally Black hairstyles were ‘unnatural’ or to subject wrestlers with traditionally Black hairstyles to differential treatment as to when a hair cover was required.”
As part of Wednesday’s agreement, the athletic association will provide in-person training to all wrestling officials in the state before the start of the season to emphasize that the rule in question is based on hair length, not a hairstyle.
By the end of the 2020-2021 school year, the association will provide implicit bias training to all high school officials and require schools to provide similar training to administrators, coaches, and trainers.